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IT company says cyberattacks should act as a wake-up call for Bermuda

Increasing threat: cyberattacks are growing in number and sophistication around the world. Bermuda-based Gateway Systems believes businesses here have not invested as much in security as is needed to keep up with the arising threats (Photograph by Vadim Ghirda/AP)

A highly disruptive cyberattack on a major fuel pipeline network in the United States, and another against an arm of insurance company Axa, should act as a cybersecurity wake-up call for Bermuda.

That's the view of Hamilton-based IT services and software development company Gateway Systems Limited.

It has warned that, from its experience, businesses on the island have not invested as much in security as is needed to keep up with the increasing number and sophistication of cyberthreats now happening around the world.

In addition, the rise in remote working has introduced new vulnerabilities.

Ruben Teuling, director of technical services at Gateway Systems, said: "The trend of cyberattacks has amplified since the pandemic as businesses increase their online presence and employers are working more remotely than before.

"Working from home and 'Bring your own device' to work policies has introduced new vulnerabilities into many organisations. We believe this worrying trend will likely continue in the future. Cybersecurity is now a frequent topic of concern from our clients."

A ransomware attack on May 7 against Colonial Pipeline, which supplies fuel to much of the US East Coast, caused it to temporarily shutdown its network and resulted in panic buying at gas stations and fuel shortages hitting businesses.

The Financial Times has reported that Axa Partners, an international arm of Axa, on Sunday said that parts of its Asian operations were recently the victim of a targeted ransomware attack, which impacted operations. According to the report, the cyber criminals said they had stolen three terabytes of data.

And last week, Ireland's public healthcare system, the Health Service Executive, shut down its IT system in response to a ransomware attack.

Such attacks are typically carried out by criminal hackers who scramble data and demand payment to decrypt it, and can also threaten to release sensitive information they have accessed.

Gateway Systems said the number of high-profile cybersecurity breaches is increasing, with a 62 per cent jump since 2019.

"This points to cyber criminals becoming increasingly organised, sophisticated, and frequent in their activity," it said.

"As we all know in Bermuda, our island has a strong reputation as a trusted place to do business for many high-net-worth individuals and large financial corporations. However, many of our teams here are small and based on our experience, Bermudian businesses have not invested as much in security as needed to keep up with the arising threats."

The company has issued tips that can help organisations prepare for future threats. Those tips include placing firewalls and advanced threat protection; having cloud and endpoint protection; and using network monitoring, particularly as there have been examples of network penetration through CCTV cameras, vending machines and other "smart" devices with an IP address.

Michael Harding, senior consultant at Gateway, said: "The direct costs and reputational damage of a cyber incident are obvious, but if sensitive customer data is leaked this disruption can cripple a business permanently.

"Prevention remains the best strategy in this new environment. This can all seem very daunting, but there are security consultants in Bermuda, such as Gateway, that can help navigate this journey."

Gateway Systems was established in Bermuda in 1990. It has offices on Queen Street and can be contacted by e-mail at info@gateway.bm

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Published May 20, 2021 at 7:59 am (Updated May 20, 2021 at 7:49 am)

IT company says cyberattacks should act as a wake-up call for Bermuda

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