Smaller businesses are more prone to this type of cyber attack, but larger Balearic companies can also be vulnerable. | Alamy - Alamy


More than 15% of Balearic companies lose computer-based information to hackers. Malware via emails is the typical cause, with payment then required in order to free the data.

Luis Angel González, a lawyer and consultant with Pyramide Asesores, is working with a company (Sein Tic) in studying a phenomenon that has increased progressively in recent years. It is one that is particularly problematic for small and medium-sized businesses which are less likely to have appropriate control and security systems.

González says that the cybercriminals are mainly based in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. They design programmes which make it all but impossible to recover files and affected applications. The most dangerous, he adds, are those which encrypt files or block systems without users knowing. Once affected, the information is not recoverable unless there is a good back-up system or unless payment is made.

These organised criminals operate by launching massive and indiscriminate attacks on email accounts, sending mails advising that there are packages to be collected from the post office or simulating invoices or notices from utilities companies, banks and others.

"The thing is," observes González, "that it is the user who opens the door to the cybercriminals and sets in motion the capture of information. Anti-virus software doesn't easily pick this up. In the end, there is often no other remedy than to pay. Many of these attacks don't come to light because victims feel ashamed to have to report them."

He adds that large tourism companies in the Balearics are also affected. They may have better control and security systems, but they can still be vulnerable and encounter serious problems.