South African SMEs vulnerable to ransomware attacks

Warren Bonheim, Chief Commercial Officer at Zinia

Warren Bonheim, Chief Commercial Officer at Zinia
Warren Bonheim, Chief Commercial Officer at Zinia

In the most recent mega ransomware attack, ‘Petya’, which broke out in the Ukraine, and swept through Europe and Asia, South African SMMEs need to be wary, and not caught on the back foot.

“South African businesses and institutions tend to feel far removed from major malware attacks that launch in the northern hemisphere,” says Warren Bonheim, Chief Commercial Officer at Zinia, a business internet telecoms service provider. “However, while our banks and large scale enterprises are fairly safe, it’s small to medium businesses that face the most risk.”

A report by Verizon claims that 61% of all ransomware attacks are on small to medium businesses with less than 1000 employees. These statistics are even more fightening because 1 out of every 5 malware attacks is a ransomware hit.

Bonheim explains, “Ransomware attacks are on the rise, with over 2.6 million now happening on a global scale, it comes down to what strategy does your company have in place to protect itself. SMMEs cannot isolate themselves from the Internet if they wish to continue doing business. Ransomware is evasive, disguised as anything from a glaringly obvious phishing scam to a notification off an Instagram account.”

Data from IBM claims that 59% of all ransomware finds its way into organisations via email, and of these emails 40% of them are spam. “Without a solid service provider and a war-room plan in place 70% of businesses who have been victims of ransomware have made the tough decision and paid the money to release their critical data. Digital currencies like bitcoin are virtually untraceable on the dark web so there is little to offer in terms of legal recourse,” he adds.

According to Bonheim most companies lose interest because of the tedious service level agreement process, convoluted industry jargon and a basic lack of information when it comes to stepping up and safe guarding their networks. Bonheim says, “In the past six months, Zinia has increased our sales on fire boxes simply because we take the time to explain to clients what risks their businesses face daily basis. An efficient network is nothing if it’s not secure.

“Your server room is the main stop for ransomware so it is essential this door is firmly shut, a working firebox that is supported by proactive and intelligent software is the next critical step. A reactive system means that essentially your business will end up trying to fix a problem instead of preventing one from happening.”

By Warren Bonheim, Chief Commercial Officer at Zinia