Ransomware Attacks Continue to Pose Challenges for Businesses
Ransomware continues to be a vexing problem for businesses. Ransomware is a special type of malware designed to encrypt a victim’s computers, where the only hope of restoring their computer systems is by paying a ransom to the hacker. Ransom demands can range from the tens of thousands of dollars up to multi-millions depending on the size of the target and the greed of the attacker.
According to Fox Business, just last month, Carnival Corporation, the cruise line operator, was hit with a ransomware attack that the company says “accessed and encrypted a portion of one brand’s information technology systems.” In the past few years, victims of ransomware included large publicly traded companies, small enterprises and municipalities like Atlanta and Baltimore. No enterprise has proved safe from this accelerating threat.
The best defense against ransomware attacks is prevention. Best practices include regularly patching any software in use, using secure passwords and training employees on IT security issues. Regularly patching software prevents hackers from exploiting widely known flaws in software code. Using secure passwords involves updating them often and using complex passwords. This prevents brute force attempts at gaining access to computer systems.
The most important way to prevent ransomware attacks is through IT security training for all employees. Phishing attacks, where an email is sent to employees containing malicious code via a link or an attachment, is a very popular way to attack with ransomware. When an employee clicks on the link or attachment, the ransomware is unleashed on the company’s computer systems. Because the software is launched from within the network, it has the ability to circumvent many of the traditional defenses against malware. Well-trained employees are much more adept at spotting and flagging bogus emails before any harm is done to the computer network.
With that said, even the best efforts at prevention can fail. When preventing a ransomware attack fails, the best way to quickly restore a computer network with minimal disruption is to consistently back up computer systems in a secure manner. The affected computer systems can then be wiped clean and restored via the secure backups. It’s important that the backups are properly secured, as ransomware has been known to not only affect the main systems, but also encrypt unsecured backups as well, rendering them useless.
Finally, when all else fails, having the right insurance in place is crucial. A proper cyber policy will provide insureds with an expert team of attorneys and computer forensic experts to help them navigate the legal and technical challenges posed by ransomware. Their team will be available at all times, as hackers prefer launching ransomware attacks on weekends and holidays when companies are most vulnerable.
At Devon Park, we offer up to $5 million in limits for ransomware attacks via cyber extortion threat expense coverage on our Errors and Omissions, Media and Privacy (EMP) product. Contact your Devon Park Specialty underwriter today for more information or a quote.
Written By Erik Tifft
Second Vice President, Underwriter | 844-438-6775, ext. 2354