Ransomware Attack

It is estimated that every 11 seconds, a ransomware attack occurs (this according to Cybersecurity Ventures).  Over the last 4 years, the FBI reports there have been 4,000 attacks - on private businesses, government agencies and individual computer users.  Covid and the associated increased reliance on computing is cited as another reason for ever-increasing occurrence of hacking and ransomware. Depending on how fast you read, another business, agency or person has been attacked while you read this short paragraph.

The global cost associated with recovering from such an attack will be billions of dollars.  While not everyone bends to extortion and pays the ransom, either way, the cost of just getting back on line, researching what exactly occurred, recovering lost data, ramping up security going forward, plus the cost of employee down time and decreased productivity all adds up.

Schools have been a major target - budgets are tight and reliance on computing higher than ever. Often, IT has not been able to catch up and schools have suffered for it. Just this week the Buffalo, NY Public School district was hit by a ransomware attack that halted its plans for a return to in-person classes and the shut down of distance learning.

Across the globe in 2021, dozens of attacks have been perpetrated with victims including Ecuador’s Ministry of Finance, the Dutch Research Council (NWO), Underwriters Laboratories (world’s leading safety testing authority), Kia Motors America, Eletrobras Latin America’s largest power utility), WestRock (large paper and packaging company), and Dassault Falcon Jet Corp(US subsidiary of Dassault Aviation).

Many of us see attending to IT security as a hassle on par with doing taxes or finally getting around to cleaning out the garage.  But the tasks are straight forward and given the potential down side to this expensive and annoying risk, worth the effort. The basics:

  • Make sure your data is backed up in multiple ways to include both on the cloud and external hard drive.
  • Require Multi factor for logging in to accounts.
  • Make sure that your security protection packages are up to date.
  • Restrict access to only those persons who really need it.
  • Train staff / family on good IT hygiene - when not to click.

And naturally, we strongly recommend a proactive approach which includes some kind of red teaming. Better to conduct internal tests to find gaps then to wait for the enemy to do so.

The National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force (NCIJTF) has just released a new ransomware fact sheet. It’s intended to provide information on the current ransomware threat and the government’s response, as well as common infection ‘vectors’, tools for attack prevention, and important contacts in the event of a ransomware attack. Link here to the report: https://www.ic3.gov/Content/PDF/Ransomware_Fact_Sheet.pdf

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