In January of 2018, providers and administrators of Hancock Regional Hospital in Indiana were stunned to discover they were locked out of their own systems; they were forced to stop providing services and to transfer patients to other facilities. The brand paid a $55,000 ransom to reestablish its network and begin serving the community again. Even though the official FBI guidelines advise against paying up, the hospital had no choice, without the network, they were unable to serve patients safely or bill for the services they could still render.
Hancock Regional is just one of many organizations targeted and exploited by cyber-crime in the last year. The entire town government of Wilmer, Texas was crippled by a ransomware attack that focused on everything from the tax office to the library; the ransom was in the millions. In South Carolina, the Conway school district was forced to close for a week due to an attack — it got off lightly, with a $12,000 ransom paid to restore its network.
Ransomware on the Rise
A hospital forced to stop accepting ER patients, an entire school district closed for over a week and a municipality that is forced to suspend key services for the community — each of these distinct results was triggered by a ransomware attack. Once an attack takes place, the only option an unprepared organization has is to pay up; your business is literally at the mercy of cyber-criminals.
The only way to defeat a ransomware attack is to prepare for it in advance and make your brand an unappealing, difficult target. If attackers can’t easily access your network and wreak havoc, they will look elsewhere for their quick payday. Take the following steps to ensure your organization stays ransomware-free and that business can proceed as usual.
Ransomware finds its way into your system via a benign-looking email or attachment that is opened by one of your loyal employees. They are not trying to harm your organization, but since they are not aware of the threat, they may proceed without caution and expose you to risk. Proper, ongoing training can reduce this risk and keep your brand secure.
Update Software Regularly
The software brands and platforms you use often identify threats well before a cyber-criminal can launch an attack. Patches and updates only work for your protection if you install them. Make sure you regularly check for security updates and that you have the connectivity in place to download what you need on a regular basis, without disrupting your normal workflow. Many ransomware attacks can be prevented with up-to-date software — if you download the protective patches and updates in time. If you have the right business Internet solution, these updates can take place fairly quickly and painlessly.
Check for Proper Password Use
If your team is using passwords like “QWERTY” or “Password” (2 of 2018’s most popular passwords), then it's time to make a change. A cyber criminal does not have to do much work to access your system if you use easy-to-guess passwords; they can just log right in and begin doing harm.
Create a Robust Backup
Create and store regular backups, both in hard copy and offsite. These will not only protect you from ransomware, but from other emergencies as well, since you can spin up your recent files as needed after a loss.
Ransomware continues to be on the rise, and the more you are aware of the risk, the better. You can only protect your brand if you know what is out there, so keep an eye on the news and note any rising or named threats. There may be suggested protocols or patches you can swiftly download to protect your business.
Up to date training, robust backups and regular software updates on a fast, secure network will prevent your brand from being victimized and dramatically mitigate your risk of business interruption. Learning more about ransomware can help you prepare for the worst while maintaining your active, successful business. Get in touch today to learn how a secure, lightning-fast connection can help protect your business and prevent you from being victimized by a predator; we’re here to help you stay connected and secure.
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