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Road Transport Forum pays ransomware, warns others

Paul Brislen, Editor. 21 June 2018, 7:50 am

The Road Transport Forum, a national body set up in 1997 to "responsibly promote and advance the interests of the road transport industry and its member associations" has become the sobering cautionary tale in the fight against ransomware.

In a post published today by Contractor Magazine, CEO Ken Shirley says the RTF "suffered an extremely serious ransomware attack. It completely knocked out our entire computer system - files, emails, everything."

Shirley is now using the experience to warn other organisations who may be at risk of attack, especially small businesses or those outside the IT realm who may not be quite as familiar with cyber-security as they could be.

"To best protect your organisation CERT NZ advises to always update your operating system and make sure you back up your files regularly. Install antivirus and anti-ransomware software on your system if you don't already have it and keep it up-to-date. Install a firewall to stop traffic from untrustworthy sources getting into your computer and, finally, refrain from enabling macros in Microsoft Office," says Shirley in his post.

And he warns trucking companies in particular to pay close attention to their online connectivity.

"For transport companies operating vehicle fleets, managing payroll, invoices and all the other administrative and accounting functions now done electronically, it is no exaggeration to say a ransomware attack could be devastating."

Shirley appears to have engaged with CERT NZ over the incident, which is a prudent course of action as CERT can log attacks, and will work with overseas' investigators to potentially help track down those behind the incident. 

However,  Shirley also says he was forced to pay the ransom, "against my better judgement". We can only hope the RTF has engaged a security professional to ensure nothing unsavoury was left behind in its newly liberated IT systems.


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