What is Ransomware?
Ransomware is a type of malware that infects your system, targeting your personal or business data. You will receive an onscreen message that your files are now encrypted, with a demand for payment to restore access.
Example of scam*
John runs a small business with about 10 staff members. His account manager opened an attachment in an email containing an unpaid invoice from one of their suppliers. The file did not open when clicked on. Unfortunately, in the background, it infected their network with ransomware, including their backup files on a USB which was still connected to their computer.
The following day a message appeared on the screen advising their files had been encrypted and they had 72 hours to pay a ransom in crypto currency, otherwise all their customer and business files would be deleted forever.
Effectively locked out of their own system and files, the company was unable to operate.
John followed the cybercriminal's instructions and paid nearly $3,000 only to find they did not unlock his files.
John then hired specialists to recover as much of their data as possible. The impact on the day to day running of his business was significant.
Common ways you may be targetted by ransomware
Clicking on a link or attachment.
Cybercriminals will usually contact you via an email containing a link or attachment, such as a word document or pdf.
Visiting suspicious websites or clicking on malicious advertisements can also lead to infection of Ransomware.
Pay to unlock your files.
Cybercriminals will then ask for payment to decrypt your files. However, even if you pay the ransom there's no guarantee they will unlock your files.
What you can do if you
come across a scam
Let us know
- Please report scams or suspicious activity immediately to Westpac at 132 032 or +61 2 9155 7700 (if calling from overseas).
- Forward suspicious emails to email@example.com or SMS/text messages to 0497 132 032 then delete the email or message.
- You can also report all suspicious activity to the Australian Cyber Security Centre at cyber.gov.au/report.
Get support and stay in the know
- IDCARE provides free, confidential support and guidance to those impacted by fraud, scams, identity theft or compromise. Call them toll-free on 1800 595 160 or visit idcare.org.
- Keep up to date on scams by subscribing to the government's scam email alerts from scamwatch.gov.au/subscribe.
- Check out our latest scams, for copies of recently reported scams at westpac.com.au/scams.
Prevent future attacks
Things you should know
* Examples are based on one or more real scam reports received by Westpac. For privacy purposes real names have not been used.