The National Cyber Security Centre and the Garda National Cyber Crime Bureau are warning small and medium business owners of an increased threat of ransomware attacks.
They also encouraged business owners to report the incidents to both the National Cyber Security Centre and gardaí.
The National Cyber Security Centre and the Garda National Crime Bureau have written to the Small Firms Association to warn business owners of ransomware attacks.
They have observed a trend of small and medium sized enterprises being increasingly targeted by cyber crime groups.
Ransomware is a type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system or threaten to leak sensitive stolen data until a sum of money is paid.
The NCSC said it has noticed a change in tactics where hackers are now turning their attention away from big business and Government department towards smaller businesses.
In May 2021, the Health Service Executive was the victim of a ransomware attack that affected the delivery of health services.
Director of the National Cyber Security Centre Richard Browne explained that it has become less lucrative to target large entities, as many of them have stopped paying ransoms.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, he said that because of that fall-off in money being paid, smaller businesses are being targeted.
“Some of the ransomware groups have gotten a lot of attention from law enforcement and security entities around the world. And several of them have been either taken down or significantly reduced their effects, which means that some of them have fractured,” Mr Browne said.
He warned that if a company does pay a ransom, there is no guarantee that they will get full access to their data.
He said that there is also a moral reason not to pay “because you’re paying criminals to conduct further attacks” and once you pay, you will get a reputation for paying.
“We’ve seen consistently both here and internationally that entities that pay are hit again and sometimes by the same group, sometimes by different groups. Because word gets out and if an entity gets a reputation for paying out in ransomware, they will be hit again.”