Ransomware

The vision is chilling. It's another busy day. An employee arrives and logs on to the network only to be confronted by a locked screen displaying a simple message: “Your files have been captured and encrypted. To release them, you must pay.”

Ransomware has grown recently to become one of the primary threats to companies, governments and institutions worldwide. The physical nightmare of inaccessible files pairs up with the more human nightmare of deciding whether to pay the extortionists or tough it out.

Security experts are used to seeing attacks of all types, and it comes as no surprise that ransomware attacks are becoming more frequent and more sophisticated.

infosec-ics2
(See full (ISC)2 Infographic)

Security Experts Take Note

Chris Sellards, a Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP) working in the southwestern U.S. as a senior security architect points out that cyber threats change by the day, and that ransomware is becoming the biggest risk of 2016. Companies might start out with adequate provisions against infiltration, but as they grow, their defenses sometimes do not grow with them. He points out the example of a corporate merger or acquisition. As two companies become one, the focus may be on the day-to-day challenges of the transition. But in the background, the data that the new company now owns may be of significantly higher value than it was before. This can set the company up as a larger potential target, possibly even disproportionate to its new size.

The problem with ransomware as a security threat is that its impact can be significantly reduced through adequate backup and storage protocols. As Michael Lyman, a Boston-area CCSP states, when companies are diligent about disaster recovery, they can turn ransomware from a crisis to merely a nuisance. He says that organizations must pay attention to their disaster recovery plans. It's a classic case of the ounce of prevention being worth more than the pound of cure. However, he points out that such diligence is not happening as frequently as it should.

As an independent consultant, Michael has been called into companies either to implement a plan or to help fix the problem once it has happened. He points out that with many young companies still in their first years of aggressive growth, the obligation to stop and make sure that all the strategic safeguards are in place is often pushed aside. “These companies,” he says, “tend to accept the risk and focus instead on performance.” He is usually called in only after the Board of Directors has asked management for a detailed risk assessment for the second time.

Neutralizing The Danger

Adequate disaster preparations and redundancy can neutralize the danger of having unique files held hostage. It is vital that companies practice a philosophy of “untrust,” meaning that everything on the inside must remain locked up. It is not enough to simply have a strong wall around the company and its data; it must be assumed that the bad people will find their way in somehow, which means all the data on the inside must be adequately and constantly encrypted.

tech-news

It is essential to also bear in mind that ransomware damage does not exist solely inside the organization. There will also be costs and damage to the company-client relationship. At the worst is the specter of leaked confidential files – the data that clients entrusted to a company – and the recrimination and litigation that will follow. But even when a ransom event is resolved, meaning files are retained and no data is stolen, there is still the damage to a company's reputation when the questions start to fly: “How could this have happened?” and “How do we know it won't happen again?”

As cloud and IOT technologies continue to connect with each other, businesses and business leaders must understand that they own their risk. It is appropriate for security experts to focus on the fear factor, especially when conversing with the members of the Executive, for whom the cost of adequate security often flies in the face of profitability. Eugene Grant, a CCSP based in Ontario, Canada, suggests that the best way to adequately convey the significance of a proactive security plan is to use facts to back up your presentation; facts that reveal a quantitative risk assessment as opposed to solely qualitative. In other words, bring it down to cost versus benefit.

No company is too small to be immune or invisible to the black hats. It is up to the security specialists to convey that message.

For more on the CCSP certification from (ISC)2, please visit their website. Sponsored by (ISC)2

By Steve Prentice

Steve Prentice

Steve Prentice is a project manager, writer, speaker and expert on productivity in the workplace, specifically the juncture where people and technology intersect. He is a senior writer for CloudTweaks.

View Website

CONTRIBUTORS

Cloud-Based or On-Premise ERP Deployment? Find Out

Cloud-Based or On-Premise ERP Deployment? Find Out

ERP Deployment You know how ERP deployment can improve processes within your supply chain, and the things to keep in ...
Two 2017 Trends From A Galaxy Far, Far Away

Two 2017 Trends From A Galaxy Far, Far Away

Reaching For The Stars People who know me know that I’m a huge Star Wars fan. I recently had the ...
What Futuristic Transportation Will Look Like In Your Lifetime

What Futuristic Transportation Will Look Like In Your Lifetime

Futuristic Transportation Being stuck in traffic or late for work because of a hold up on the dreaded commute could ...
What the Dyn DDoS Attacks Taught Us About Cloud-Only EFSS

What the Dyn DDoS Attacks Taught Us About Cloud-Only EFSS

DDoS Attacks October 21st, 2016 went into the annals of Internet history for the large scale Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) ...
Cloud Services Are Vulnerable Without End-To-End Encryption

Cloud Services Are Vulnerable Without End-To-End Encryption

End-To-End Encryption The growth of cloud services has been one of the most disruptive phenomena of the Internet era.  However, ...
Countdown to GDPR: Preparing for Global Data Privacy Reform

Countdown to GDPR: Preparing for Global Data Privacy Reform

Preparing for Global Data Privacy Reform Multinational businesses who aren’t up to speed on the regulatory requirements of the European ...
Achieving Network Security In The IoT

Achieving Network Security In The IoT

Security In The IoT The network security market is experiencing a pressing and transformative change, especially around access control and ...
AWS S3 Outage & Lessons in Tech Responsibility From Smokey the Bear

AWS S3 Outage & Lessons in Tech Responsibility From Smokey the Bear

AWS S3 Outage & Lessons in Tech Responsibility Earlier this week, AWS S3 had to fight its way back to ...
4 Open Source Business Intelligence Tools For Big Data Reporting

4 Open Source Business Intelligence Tools For Big Data Reporting

Open Source Business Intelligence Tools It’s impossible to take the right business decisions without having insightful information to back up ...
The Rise Of BI Data And How To Use It Effectively

The Rise Of BI Data And How To Use It Effectively

The Rise of BI Data Every few years, a new concept or technological development is introduced that drastically improves the ...

NEWS

VMware and Carbon Black Fundamentally Transform Current Approaches to Data Center and Cloud Security

VMware and Carbon Black Fundamentally Transform Current Approaches to Data Center and Cloud Security

New joint, cloud-based security solution combines enforcement of "known good" application behavior with advanced threat detection and automated remediation WALTHAM, ...
The Department of Defense Cloud

Internet Association asks for U.S. net neutrality vote delay

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Internet Association, whose more than 40 members include companies like Google and Amazon, urged the Federal ...
U.S. IT Sector Employment Expands by 8,100 Jobs in November, CompTIA Analysis Reveals

U.S. IT Sector Employment Expands by 8,100 Jobs in November, CompTIA Analysis Reveals

DOWNERS GROVE, Ill., Dec. 8, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- New hiring in computer and electronics manufacturing and technology services and custom ...