Ransomware has become a major business and social menace

Instances of businesses of all sizes being infected by ransomware are becoming more and more common. It is not just corporate bodies that are being hit – individual members of the public are also being asked to pay sums of money to criminals in order to remove viruses from their data. It is also understood that 30% of National Health Service hospitals in the UK have suffered ransomware attacks.

There are a range of measures that will help to protect against the effects of ransomware, as outlined in this recent article. As well as taking protective steps, however, the safest way to reduce the risk of being infected by ransomware is for businesses to inform their customers, employees, associates, partners, suppliers and any other parties that they communicate with is to make it clear that no information of any importance will ever be transmitted by email, which is the source of the overwhelming majority of the malware that leads to ransomware problems.

Safe4 have been highlighting this issue for some time – if important or confidential information is placed into a secure vault where it will be available to authorised users whenever they need it, the need for sending anything of consequence by email is dramatically reduced. Whilst it is almost impossible to remove the threat of being infected by malware completely, there are safer ways to communicate that radically reduce this risk.

Please contact us. We will be very pleased to assist in the fight against fraud and cyber crime.

Safe4 continues to prioritise security following outage on 22nd and 23rd March

Unfortunately Safe4 suffered a number of outages on the 22nd and 23rd of March. The system was partially unavailable and reporting errors for a total of just under 35 minutes over the two days (25 mins on 22nd March and a little under 10mins on 23rd.) Regrettably this was in the middle of the morning for many of our users – our peak time. Safe4 appreciate that this will have caused those affected a lot of inconvenience and we would sincerely like to apologise for this.

Safe4 strives for a high standard of performance and we have designed a robust solution that enables us to achieve this.  We have maintained 100% availability in recent months and 99.96% over the last 12 months including scheduled maintenance.

What happened

It is important to understand the root cause and learn from the incident to try to avoid it occurring in the future.

Investigation showed that a defective operating system update which was automatically applied caused the outage. Updates like these occur regularly and normally do not impact our operation at all. Unfortunately in this instance it did. Diagnosis was not simple and took longer than we would like.

The problem affected a large number of systems on the internet at about the same time. The OS vendor took prompt action to release an updated patch to correct the issue. Unfortunately because of the problems caused by the first patch the updated patch could not be applied seamlessly either. On this occasion however the resolution was known and the downtime was minimised while the process completed.

As you know Safe4 prioritises the security of your information. A key strategy we employ is to maintain our systems patched to the latest security releases at all times. As you will regularly read in the press, new threats are being discovered all of the time. Fortunately processes are in place that enable vulnerabilities to be reported and systems patched before those vulnerabilities become generally known.

Maintaining the patch level automatically is therefore important to maintaining the security of your information.

Prioritise security

To avoid such problems in the future we have weighed up the risk of turning off the automatic updates. Having examined the incidence of this type of failure (only occurrence since Safe4 started 7 years ago) compared to the possible security risk of delaying patching we have made the decision to continue with our current approach.

We hope you agree with our decision to prioritise security in this way. Safe4 is committed to providing a reliable service and we will of course continue to monitor this situation and seek ways to further reduce the likelihood of a future problem such as this.

Identity theft on the increase in the UK

Online fraud is increasingly alarmingly in the UK, according to recent reports. This particularly applies to identity theft. Cyber crime now accounts for more than half of all reported crime in the United Kingdom, and the situation is becoming more difficult all the time.

One of the prime sources of computer crime is the reliance on email to carry confidential information. Time and again criminals are targeting email communication and falsifying the contents of messages in order to intercept the transfer of funds in some types of transaction. This has become particularly prevalent in conveyancing transactions – numerous families have lost their life savings after bank transfers have been made to fraudsters’ accounts, with emails having been intercepted and their contents changed. In spite of this, 70% of UK solicitors still use open email to transfer confidential information.

Safe4 now offers a completely secure facility for the safe transfer of bank account information between parties involved in any type of financial transaction, without relying on either voice or email communication. For more details, please contact us – we will be very pleased to assist you.