Recently, two large-scale ransomware attacks have caused chaos for many organizations across the world. In May, there was WannaCry which infected around 300,000 machines throughout different countries; The UK’s National Health System was hit particularly hard. As of last week, a new variant of Petya was released that started in Ukraine’s power grid but quickly spread across multiple countries infecting thousands of computers.
As of now, Petya seems to be much less widespread than WannaCry, but it has still managed to infect machines across many high-profile organizations. Many of these organizations are still feeling the impact of these attacks to this current day, especially if they did not have the proper precautions in place to fully secure their information. So, what can organizations learn from these events?
Businesses are the key target for ransomware
As of the last few years we have seen a shift from ransomware targeting home users to causing nuisances at big businesses. Organizations naturally have deeper pockets and more to lose than consumers do, so the shift can be blamed on purely profit based actions. This threat will never stop, only evolve. Organizations need to do the same by evolving their security posture to align with the current threats. Educate your organization and invest in adequate precautions and actions to fully secure, and have a proper backup plan, for when an attack happens.
Paying up won’t get your data back
Paying the ransom to decrypt your data is not a valid strategy for multiple reasons. Remember, these are criminals you are dealing with and paying off a crook is never a good idea. First, it can only encourage other criminals to try these ransomware campaigns again. Secondly, when you see organizations paying off a cyber-criminal you can assume that they may be less willing to spend the time and effort needed to secure their systems properly. Last but not least, paying off a ransom for a decryption key might not always mean that you will get your data back. With the most recent attack, Petya, data is unrecoverable. The email account was shut down therefore shutting off the communication for decryption keys to the victims. And on top of that, research shows that the virus was created as a wiper that destroys the disk and disguises itself with a ransom message.
What’s the worst that can happen? Your business can become collateral damage
High-profile organizations are not the only targets in ransomware campaigns. Small to mid-sized businesses are a huge target because, most often, they are groups with less security precautions in place due to lack of budget, security professionals, or know-how.
Currently there is talk that Petya was aimed specifically at Ukrainian industrial targets, but spread much further than originally expected. Just because you are in a different organization or country, doesn’t mean you are safe. Many businesses in the United States were hit with Petya and are struggling to get back on their feet. Being vigilant is not enough of a defense anymore when it comes to protecting your organizations crucial information.
Patches are not an option
Patching is no longer an option, it needs to be a requirement. WannaCry was extremely infectious because it used an exploit developed by the NSA that was leaked by the Shadow Brokers group. They used this to exploit a vulnerability in the windows systems. There was a patch available for this vulnerability months before it was used in such a destructive manner. For those who properly deployed that patch, they were safe from the attack. For the hundreds of thousands of people who did not patch, they were vulnerable to both WannaCry and Petya.
Patching is tedious and time-consuming. Most of the time the patches need tested to make sure they don’t break anything else inside the business. Some organizations don’t have the time or staff for such tedious work. In this case, many companies are turning to managed services providers (MSP). A MSP can handle monitoring, patching, patch testing, and much more in a cost-effective solution. The trade-off is easily justifiable when you see the effects of something like WannaCry or Petya.
You don’t know what you have until it is gone
Understanding what data means is not always the first thing on a business owners mind; and it is not always the easiest either. It might not be what or where you think it is. It might not be properly backed up or stored in the best location. Employees using the data might not understand the importance of losing it either. It is important to speak with a technology service provider about the best practices on backup, recovery, monitoring, and much more. They can help you anywhere from monitoring the health and progress of your machines to recovering your whole environment after an attack. Ransomware isn’t the only disaster that can hit an organization, but it is a great time to talk about your mission critical data’s future. Unfortunately, you never know what you have until it is gone – and when it comes to business data, you don’t want to have to experience this cliché saying for yourself.
Take the time and speak to a technology provider about your security and backup options before it is too late. Just because these ransomware attacks have slowed down, it doesn’t mean that they are the last of their kind. They happened once and they will happen again – that we can guarantee.
NetServe365 is a managed services provider that focuses on 24/7 monitoring, support and management of small to large organizations operations. They have a suite of security services that can save your organizations mission critical data in the heat of a disaster. Call today for a free consultation.
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