RCMP is warning the public about a type of scam targeting businesses after a recent report received by Halifax District RCMP. Police received the report from a business that had their network hacked with ransomware. The hackers demanded $270,000 to reinstate their network.
Ransomware is malicious software, also known as malware, that infects a computer and denies users access to the system or data. A hacker will then demand a sum of money to have the information restored. The most common form of ransomware encrypts data. The victims of these scams typically receive an on-screen alert stating their files have been encrypted or a similar type of message, depending on the type of ransomware.
These scams often go unreported and although they may target non-for-profit organizations, municipalities, law firms, IT services, senior living centres and nursing homes, any business or individual could be a target.
Tips to protect yourself:
- Train and educate staff on good security practices
- Do not click on links or open attachments in e-mails sent by someone you don't know
- Use a reputable security software suite
- Restrict administrative privilege
- Use strong passwords and change them often. Use multi-factor verification such as linking an account to a cell phone
- Keep back up networks separate from the primary one
- Ensure all software, including anti-virus software, is kept current on all computers, servers and devices
- Develop business continuity and incident response plans
- Do not negotiate with hackers and call police
Police want to remind the public that being scammed is never the victim's fault and scammers can be very persuasive and convincing. If you think you may be a victim, please report to your local police and contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501. For more information, visit https://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/index-eng.htm.
File # 20-55283