- Tuesday, 5 December 2017
You could lose all you have worked for
Imagine suddenly losing your businesses’ second most important Asset without warning. The sad fact is that most businesses are at risk of it happening, have no plans in place if it does happen, and have only limited control whether it will happen or not.
I rate the most important Asset in a business its’ people, and believe that in most businesses number 2 is Information. Whilst you can usually foresee the loss of a person or two, it is unlikely you will lose the whole lot in one foul swoop as is increasingly happening to businesses when it comes to cybercrime. And the sad fact is that our Governments do absolutely nothing about it.
We’re all a bit guilty of thinking it only happens to others. Internet scams are only done to gullible, lonely individuals, and we all know how to recognise emails and attachments with viruses, right? And a hack of a bank or email account details only happens overseas - hey, we’ll change our passwords, so no risk?
All of the above is incorrect, and it is much more prevalent than most people think. I know of several businesses that have had emails intercepted so it still looks like it’s coming from your regular contact, only to have scammers dodging up invoices that match exactly what you ordered – except for the different bank account details. So, when you pay on the bank account details, it’s a “correct” transaction. Try to get the money back through the banks and you can’t. You’ll report if to the State Police and Federal Police, who will tell you they can’t do anything about it as the perpetrator is outside their jurisdiction (probably overseas). Contacting police overseas (assuming you know where to go) and they don’t care because it didn’t happen to one of their citizens.
I also know of a company that had all their cloud based information locked in a ransomware attack, only to be released if a ransom was paid. They didn’t pay, and were reasonably well prepared because they had an outside provider doing regular backups. Except when they went to download the backups, only about 2/3’s worked (how often do you check the accuracy of backups?), and there is no real way of knowing which third is missing. Try running your business without complete job files or copies of quotes. And how do you go if you don’t know who has been invoiced, who hasn’t paid, what tax will be due or which suppliers have/haven’t been paid.
The best businesses can do to prevent the above is to conduct regular backups in more than one location, have good anti-virus protection, and staff that are aware and have attention to detail to question things that might not look right.
As for my Christmas wish this year, it is that our Politicians and public servants change their agendas to the topics that are important to the population and businesses of this country. Rather than seeing themselves as superior by implementing more rules that they are usually exempt from themselves, start tackling the real issues, like putting in place a framework for how to deal with this type of crime. It is estimated to already have cost businesses $388 Billion globally in 2011 and is forecast to reach $6 Trillion by 2021 – maybe a topic for the next UN talk fest?
Whilst our Federal Government has set up ACORN (Australian Cyber Online Reporting Network) to work in this area, all they do is ask for crimes to be reported and provide information after the fact. Most people don’t report, because they know nothing will come of it, are perhaps embarrassed to admit they’ve fallen for something, and often don’t have the full details of how they lost the money. In the mean time, it’s costing Australia over $10 billion per year – to put that into perspective, that’s more than Qld Government forecasts to spend on Infrastructure each year, hailed as giving employment to about 40,000 people.
There are still actions our authorities could take. As far as I know, you can’t open a bank account anywhere in the world without ID, and the same should apply with computer IP addresses. In most of these cases, you know where the money was transferred to, so should be able to track down the individual (or at least stop the accounts if the account was set up fraudulently). Or, how about you take a leaf from a gentleman who I heard on the radio recently. He was quite IT savvy, and was contacted by a scammer. He let them into his computer, which allowed him to hack the hacker back. He then found all the transactions the hackers had done, and refunded the money to the people who had been fleeced. Oh, to have been a fly on the wall in the hacker boiler room when they realised...
Unfair contracts part 2
With the just announced conviction of Ashley & Martin, the scalps keep falling thanks to the unfair contracts legislation. Hot off the press after last months Newsletter, the second public case to be revealed involved none other than Ashley & Martin – tying balding people into year long contracts worth $3-5,000 which only gave them two days after first treatment to pull out was seen by ACCC as insufficient time as it’s highly unlikely any treatment would have had any indication of success in that time frame.
Make sure you don’t get caught up in unfair contracts, as it can be a very costly exercise. The second item on my Christmas wish list is for the ACCC to look into the retirement village industry. I took but a cursory glance at some of these contracts a few years ago, and can’t see the rules around selling or moving on from the village ever passing as a fair contract when the retirement village provider is the only one who can sell your property at an up front agreed price less than you bought it for, after charging whatever they like to bring it “up to date”. Not even the ongoing fee’s seem to be fair or reflective of services provided.
Thank you and Merry Christmas!
Closing off the year, I’d like to extend a sincere Thank You to our fantastic customers! Whilst some are still doing it a bit tough, there are a lot more that are positive about the immediate future than over the last couple of years. Used Machinery prices have even increased in value, something that rarely happens. This is due to a (probably temporary) shortage of new machinery worldwide. More and more customers have been buying good used machinery and have been using new replacement parts as a means of improving the condition of their existing machines whilst reducing operating expenses to gain a competitive edge.
From all of us at RDW, we wish you a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year. Enjoy a well earned break, and remember that this is a time for spending time with family and re-charging for what looks like another busy year ahead!
As always, onwards and upwards!