Date posted: May 22, 2015

As part of National Consumer Fraud Week 2015, the ACCC is warning small business operators to think twice before opening email files that could contain ransomware. The ACCC’s latest Targeting Scams Report shows that almost $1 million was lost to these scams last year.

Ransomware is a type of malware that infects a computer system by restricting access unless a ransom is paid to a scammer for the restriction to be removed.

“The ACCC received over 2,500 ransomware and malware complaints last year with over $970,000 reported lost by small businesses and consumers. Several people reported losing over $10,000 to these scams, which can have a devastating effect on a small business,” ACCC Deputy Chair Dr Michael Schaper said.

SCAMwatch offers these tips to protect you and your business from ransomware:

  • Ensure your computer has a firewall and up-to-date anti-virus and anti-spyware software.

  • Do not click on links or download files in emails you receive out of the blue; especially if they are executable (.exe) files or zip files. These files are likely to contain malware.

  • Use a pop-up blocker as a lot of ransomware is delivered after following links in pop-up alerts.

  • If there is any doubt about the legitimacy of an email supposedly from a legitimate business, do not rely on contact details or links provided or open any attachments – contact the organisation using the number in the telephone directory or on their official website to verify.

  • Regularly back-up your computer’s data on a separate hard drive so this can be easily re-installed if your computer is infected by malware or ransomware.

For more information, please read the full media release.