Bucking the trends: SOLVit, guarding Canberra’s small businesses from hackers

Sharon Kelley 9 December 2020
Damien Samios from SOLVit.

Damien Samios from SOLVit, a Canberra company helping protect businesses from IT security breaches. Photo: Thomas Lucroft.

There has been more than a 60 per cent increase in cyber attacks on small-to-medium businesses during the past 12 months, according to Damien Samios from SOLVit.

Damien is a local Canberran, who was raised in Lyneham, and he is the third generation of small business owners in his family, who is leading cyber defence for businesses in Canberra.

SOLVit protects small-to-medium businesses from information technology security breaches and ensures they are compliant with Australian data protection laws and regulations. SOLVit also provides a help desk, repairs and servicing of equipment, backup services, and cloud solutions and protection.

Any business that collects personal information, such as email addresses, must take steps to protect that information under the Privacy Act 1988.


READ ALSO: How an unopened email started a ‘sophisticated’ cyber attack on ANU


Damien says peace of mind comes from knowing you have the right systems and hardware in place to prevent data breaches, and protect your business and your clients from malware, ransomware and phishing scams.

“It’s a bit like building a house – if you don’t build the right network from the ground up, and identify weaknesses in the security of your business’s information technology platforms, the whole ‘house’ will be unstable,” he says.

“The biggest threat to small-to-medium business is ransomware and malware. There’s been a 68 per cent increase in small businesses being attacked. Crazy numbers.

“You can explain the dangers, but it’s the ‘it won’t happen to us’ approach. It’s like having insurance for your car – accidents happen. It only takes one wrong click. For example, you get an email saying your email account needs verifying and you click on the link, and that’s it – the hacker is in. It doesn’t take much.

The SOLVit team: Aldy Stipnieks, Reece Draper-Roberts, Carol Herczeg, Damien Samios, Lisa Radovanov, Nicola McAuliffe, David Fox.

The team at SOLVit: Aldy Stipnieks, Reece Draper-Roberts, Carol Herczeg, Damien Samios, Lisa Radovanov, Nicola McAuliffe and David Fox. Photo: Thomas Lucroft.

“It generally takes around 90 days for people to identify that their data has been compromised, and by that time, it’s too late.

“The place your business information and your clients’ information is bought and sold is the dark web.

“Think of it a bit like an iceberg: 90 per cent of the iceberg is underwater. Your normal search engine will show around 10 per cent of what’s on the internet. If you take someone’s email account, and their password, that will be sold on the dark web to the highest bidder.

“That effectively gives a hacker access to everything associated with that email address. They can compromise your bank account, your corporate network, or use ransomware to encrypt everything on your system and hold your business to ransom.

“We’ve had multiple businesses approach us for help which have become stuck with ransomware, and at the end of the day, you’re only as good as your last backup.

“It doesn’t matter who your cloud provider is, it’s your responsibility to retain your data. If it gets hacked, those companies won’t take responsibility for restoring your data. Backup is crucial.”

The other variable that business owners must consider is the business user, says Damien. Training staff in how to use technology safely is the other half of the puzzle when it comes to protecting the business and the information it collects.

“We train staff in small businesses so they know what to look for in a simulated environment,” he says. “We undertake security testing. For example, sending an email during a specified week to see who clicks on the link. That can often identify who needs training in information technology security.”

Information about small-to-medium business obligations under the current legislation can be found online at the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.

If you are interested in learning more about your business information technology security, need an information technology help desk, or need to know how to protect your data, contact SOLVit on 02 6100 6236.

This is a sponsored article, though all opinions are the author’s own. For more information on paid content, see our sponsored content policy.


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