The Dark Side of Ransomware

Hi everyone, Tim Guim here from PCH Technologies and it is the first Tuesday in October, which means it is officially Cyber Security month!

I want to use this Tuesday with Tim to talk about a very important cyber security issue that can affect us all —- ransomware.

Many people think that they know about ransomware, that when they click a link all their files become encrypted and then computer systems grind to a halt. You see in the news how large hospital systems, schools, businesses, and even governments are shut out of there network systems by ransomware. In many of these cases, there is a lack of a tested incident response plan that does not have a backup or business continuity system in place to quickly restore the system at a point in time prior to the incident.

So, let us say that you are a CEO, board member, or decision-maker that must make the tough decision of whether to pay the ransom to the hacker. Sometimes it is the only workable choice for several reasons. Understandably, you would not want to set a precedent by paying the hacker and subjecting your business or organization as a future target. So, you decide to pay the ransom with the digital currency Bitcoin, which brings me to my first point on the Dark Side of Ransomware. You could unknowingly be paying a blacklisted entity in Iran, Russia, or North Korea in violation of sanctions or anti-laundering laws and face stiff penalties from the U.S. Treasury Department.

So, let us look at the situation in which your company or organization has a proper backup and a business continuity system in place – no big deal, right? Unfortunately, that is not always the case. These ransomware attacks are becoming more targeted and sophisticated in nature. This brings me to my second point on the Dark Side of Ransomware. Hackers are stealing confidential information from companies and organizations servers and if the ransom is not paid, the information is then released to the public internet. This can be even more devastating that just being shut out of your systems for a period of time.

I will leave you with this, to minimize your risk of falling victim to a ransomware attack, you need to take a proactive and comprehensive approach to your cybersecurity, driven by the top leadership of your company. Working with a cyber security firm can help in performing an audit to see where there are risks that may need to be addressed, as well as helping to advise on standards that could be put in place to bolster security posture. Taking cyber security seriously and being proactive can be the difference in a small issue not turning into a big one.