The ever-changing cyber security threat
In May 2021, the East Coast of America suffered the effects of a large-scale ransomware attack that targeted Colonial Pipeline. This attack, which demanded $4.4 million, targeted the pipeline, which provides roughly 45% of all the fuel for the East Coast, causing prices to skyrocket and disruption for both businesses and consumers alike. Earlier this year, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) in America was hacked by a group in China that could have given them control of transportation systems in New York and Massachusetts. Thankfully, this attack failed, but the possibility of future attacks of a similar calibre remains ever-present.
Transport and infrastructure aren’t the only targets for hackers, however. In the same month as the Colonial Pipeline breach, the Irish Health Service (HSE) suffered a ‘catastrophic attack’ that took down its systems and saw the personal data of patients stolen. All of these incidents follow on from a hectic year of cybercrime, exacerbated by the COVID-19 lockdown and the move to even more digitised services, with the first half of 2020 seeing approximately 2.5 million new ransomware attacks.
Now more than ever, effective cyber protection and risk management are vital – no matter the size of a business. It might be easy to think that small-to-medium businesses (SMB) aren’t the primary target for attacks, but this is not the case. In fact, 46% of SMBs have already been targeted by ransomware, with the average cost of ransomware-caused downtime now $380,000 per incident. This is a hefty sum for any company but for SMBs, it has the potential to be a major setback, even more so if businesses don’t manage to restore the stolen data, which happens frequently.
What is ransomware?
Ransomware is malicious software that seeks to encrypt files and hold them for ransom. The files won’t be released until the victim pays the hacker, usually a large sum of money and typically in untraceable cryptocurrency.
There are two solutions to a ransomware attack: pay the ransom and potentially lose huge sums of money or ignore it and potentially cripple your service and or have your data made publicly available. The severity of the impact depends on what was stolen and what tools were in place to keep back-ups of that data. Either option will lead to a financial loss as well as damage to the company’s reputation. To avoid this situation, it is important to have the right tools to prevent an attack outright, not just react to one already happening.
Detect and respond – the benefits of Endpoint Protection
To prevent these attacks, organisations should have strong endpoint protection across all devices, with layers of security. Good endpoint protection solutions can detect attacks before they become a threat and respond extremely quickly before the hacker has a chance to encrypt that valuable data. Modern, layered endpoint solutions are the cornerstone of any modern technology stack and can proactively prevent cybersecurity attacks and quickly remediate any fallout from successful intrusions.
Any endpoint connection in a business, from laptops to smartphones, represents a potential point of intrusion for malicious hackers. It’s vital, therefore, that businesses invest in endpoint solutions to help prevent and contain cybersecurity attacks, to avoid leaving themselves vulnerable to ransomware attacks and theft of customer data, and the ensuing regulatory penalties, expensive network outages, and loss of brand reputation.
Risk management is a vital part of the defence against malicious hackers and having the tools in place to identify areas of risk and protect against it are crucial. To protect a business from ransomware, the key is to understand the effects of ransomware, both financial and from a reputation point-of-view, and then introduce an endpoint solution that can monitor for potential risks and keep data safe. Add on a dedicated IT security team to monitor that tool, and the business will be far better prepared for any kind of attack.
Sysnet’s PDS solution provides advanced protection, detection, response, and risk analytics to protect your merchants from the full spectrum of threats, including ransomware attacks. For more information, visit https://sysnetgs.com/proactive-data-security/