INVERKEITHING cyber security experts are warning small businesses and charities to be extra vigilant after a surge in ransomware attacks in 2021.

Alba Digital Solutions is urging small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Fife to take extra steps to protect against network vulnerabilities.

It comes after the publication of a new report revealing global ransomware attacks hit a record 305 million in the first six months of this year.

The figure comes from Silicon Valley’s SonicWall 2021 Mid-Year Update Cyber Threat Report and exceeds that of 2020, which recorded 305 million attempted attacks for the whole year.

Jim McDonald, founding partner of Alba Digital Solutions in Inverkeithing, said: “Ransomware attacks have skyrocketed over the last six months, with many small businesses and third-sector organisations falling victim.

“No industry is immune to this type of threat, with sole traders, charities and larger organisations all being affected.

“Organisations in the region need to be extra cautious about their internet security and take necessary precautions to protect their online assets from ransomware and other cyber threats.”

Alba Digital Solutions is offering a free cyber security consultation for small business owners and charities in Fife who have either been a victim of, or are concerned about, ransomware.

Jim added: “We have seen an increase in requests for our cyber security services over the last six months – particularly from small businesses and the third sector, for whom security breaches can be hugely detrimental given the often-sensitive nature of their work.

“Ransomware is a particularly dangerous type of malware which employs encryption to hold its victims to ransom by threatening to either block access or publish personal or sensitive information.

“It spreads quickly and costs businesses thousands of pounds every year in downtime as they try to rectify the breach.

“But awareness is key and ultimately the first step towards protection.

“And, of course, there are lots of steps you can take to tighten your small business online security, from configuring certain software to staff training.

“If in doubt, consult an expert.”