This is not a rhetorical question or a catchy title for a blog; it is a question that brings with it a sobering chain of events that could cause your business to shut down and cost you significant money. It is a cybersecurity nightmare straight out of a science fiction novel. It even has an enigmatic name…Ransomware.
For more than a week, hackers shut down the internal computer system at a Hollywood-area hospital for a ransom of almost $3.7 million, according to NBC 4 Los Angeles. The cyberattack forced the facility, Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center, to revert to paper registrations and medical records and send 911 patients to other area hospitals.
How did the story end? Did the FBI come to the Hospitals aid? Were the cyber hackers apprehended and made to pay for the trouble they caused? I ask myself, “something so clearly illegal and disruptive must have been anticipated and dealt with.”
The hospitals response?
“The malware locks systems by encrypting files and demanding ransom to obtain the decryption key. The quickest and most efficient way to restore our systems and administrative functions was to pay the ransom and obtain the decryption key,” Chief Executive Allen Stefanek said. “In the best interest of restoring normal operations, we did this.”
What is Ransomware?
Ransomware attacks will “wreak havoc on America’s critical infrastructure,” warns a report from the Institute for Critical Institute Technology (ICIT) , a nonprofit examining the cybersecurity of public and private infrastructure. “Ransomware is less about technological sophistication and more about exploitation of the human element,” says the report.
In most ransomware cases, hackers are looking to disrupt businesses and make easy money rather than re-sell the collected data to cybercriminals. “Reselling data can be highly profitable for cybercriminals, but requires expertise in both selling data, fraudulent activities and/or the ability to sell on the black market. All of these are risky and increase the likelihood of the attacker getting caught,” says Tripwire’s senior security research engineer, Travis Smith. “Now attackers can make hundreds to thousands of dollars per infection and get paid immediately, instead of going through other risky steps to make a profit.”
How do I protect my system from Ransomware?
To prevent a ransomware attack, experts say IT leaders should do the following:
- Keep clear inventories of all of your digital assets and their locations, so cyber criminals do not attack a system you are unaware of.
- Keep all software up to date, including operating systems and applications.
- Back up all information every day, including information on employee devices, so you can restore encrypted data if attacked.
- Back up all information to a secure, offsite location.
- Segment your network: Don’t place all data on one file share accessed by everyone in the company.
- Train staff on cyber security practices, emphasizing not opening attachments or links from unknown sources.
- Develop a communication strategy to inform employees if a virus reaches the company network.
With the evolution and sophistication of cyberattacks, it is becoming more and more difficult for small and mid-sized companies to defend against the potential onslaught. They just don’t have the IT resources in-house to lead the charge. Alpine Technology Corporation understands this and, as a result, offers a solution that mitigates your exposure. It is called AlpineLive. Place your operations in the hands of professionals that understand the threats and can protect your data. AlpineLive is hosted at state-of-the-art facilities and managed by IT professionals that do this for a living. Downtime, loss of data, and business interruption are a thing of the past when you entrust one of your greatest assets, your IT infrastructure, with Alpine. For more information, go to https://rams-pro.com/hosting-solutions.
Don’t allow the thing you have spent so many years building to be held ransom… take the next right step.