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Hospital Hack Shows Importance Of Staff Training

The ransomware attack at Waikato District Health Board shows why staff training is needed to identify and report suspect emails that can contain cyber threats.

Accenture New Zealand Managing Director Ben Morgan says organisations must train staff to have a healthy scepticism of emails they receive.

“Staff are at the frontline of any cyber attack on an organisation. It is vital that they have the right training and a way to report suspect or suspicious emails to verify whether they are legitimate.

“With the right training, testing and processes in place, organisations can avert many of these types of attacks.”

The ransomware attack on Waikato DHB is typical of the way sophisticated cyber gangs are operating, says Morgan.

“These gangs are increasingly sophisticated. Where an organisation might have once been subjected to a barrage of phishing emails sent to all staff, cyber criminals are now more selective in their targets.

“Templated emails sent to all staff in an organisation quickly arouse suspicion. Spear phishing attacks target individuals with specially designed emails. A more targeted spear phishing attack can compromise an individual’s system without arousing suspicion.

“Once one person’s system is compromised, it is very easy for hackers to harvest credentials across the organisation’s network and lock out users until a ransom is paid. That is exactly what we are seeing with the Waikato DHB attack.

“If there is a suspicious looking email, staff need to be able to send it to a special inbox for assessment and verification. A click on a bad link or opening a malicious attachment is all it takes for an organisation’s IT infrastructure to be taken over.

“Scenario training is also important when building a culture of healthy scepticism in an organisation. Staff should regularly be sent bogus emails to test their cyber vigilance. It is a great way to show that managers and junior staff alike are all targets for cyber criminals, and all have a part to play in protecting the organisation from cyber threats.”

Conti, the type of ransomware variant reported as being responsible for Waikato DHB’s tech woes was identified by Accenture as one of the top 5 cyber threats of 2021 in the Ransomware response and recovery report published earlier this month.

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