According to cyber security firm Emsisoft, 205,280 organizations around the globe reported experiencing a ransomware attack in 2019—a 41% increase over 2018. This fact not only illustrates that ransomware attacks are on the rise, but it also underscores the need for organizations to act to prevent such attacks from impacting their operations.
What Is Ransomware?
According to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), ransomware is a type of malicious software cyber actors use to deny access to systems or data until a ransom is paid. After the initial infection, the ransomware attempts to spread to shared storage drives and other accessible systems. If the demands are not met, the system or encrypted data remains unavailable. In some cases, data may be deleted altogether.
Ransomware attacks are particularly damaging, as they create massive business interruptions and can lead to significant reputational harm for the impacted organization.
Examine Your Ransomware Exposures
A strong commitment to cyber security is crucial to protect your organization from ransomware attacks. CISA recommends examining the following questions to determine if your organization is prepared to address the risks presented by ransomware:
- Backups—Does your organization back up all critical information? Are the backups stored offline? Has your organization tested your ability to revert to backups during an incident?
- Risk analysis—Has your organization conducted a cyber security risk analysis of the entire organization?
- Staff training—Has your organization trained its staff on cyber security best practices?
- Vulnerability patching—Has your organization implemented appropriate patching of known system vulnerabilities?
- Application whitelisting—Does your organization allow only approved programs to run on your network?
- Incident response—Does your organization have an incident response plan in place for ransomware attacks, and has it been tested?
- Business continuity—Is your organization able to sustain operations without access to certain systems? If so, for how long?
- Penetration testing—Has your organization or a trusted third-party attempted to hack your own systems to test the security of your systems and your ability to defend against attacks?
For more information on assessing your organization’s cyber exposures, contact Dansig today.