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Locking Down Data Against Ransomware

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Locking Down Data Against Ransomware

On the rise, ransomware cybercrime is wreaking financial and operational havoc.

As the latest and fastest growing online threat, ransomware – a form of malware - is becoming a lucrative business for hackers and a looming threat for businesses large and small. According to the FBI, operational and financial costs related to ransomware in 2015 reached $25 million, compared to $209 million in the first quarter of 2016, a number that’s expected to reach $1 billion by year end.

In a ransomware attack, the hacker latterly holds an organization hostage by penetrating an organization’s network and encrypting/locking down all of its files, until the organization pays the ransom money demanded. Once the ransom is paid, the hacker releases the data by providing the organization with a decryption key that unlocks the data.

But that’s not the end of the story. “What people have to realize is that the hacker may have been rummaging around a lot of sensitive data before they encrypted it. They could have been selling the data for months before and just locked down the data on their way out,” said John Farley, Vice President, Cyber Risk, HUB International. “When an organization pays the ransom, their problems may be far from over.”

Beyond the costly extortion and temporary business interruption, which can be paralyzing, the aftermath of a ransomware event can be equally as devastating, as it can fuel federal investigations into an organization’s network safety and security, requiring costly legal representation for months or years and leading to lawsuits by affected individuals and more. 

Shielding Your Network   

While the risk of ransomware is real and on the rise, businesses can follow these best practices to shield themselves.

1.    Regularly back up data. Back up as often as you can, doing so as often as daily or hourly. If your data changes significantly hour to hour then, back up in real time. If a ransomware event does occur, you will want to access your back up data quickly.

2. Regularly scan for viruses. Conduct scans across the entire network infrastructure, including databases. This is especially critical for organizations with multiple IT managers and/or multiple locations.

3. Maintain an Incidence Response Plan.  While you may be able to get your network back up after a ransomware attack, in a worst case scenario, the hacker could get to it first. Then you’ll have to make quick decisions: Will you pay the ransom? Will you negotiate? How do you access bitcoin? These decisions must be made in advance in order to respond quickly and appropriately including:  

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HUB International
HUB International
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HUB International was born in 1998 with the merger of 11 privately held insurance brokerages. That number has grown to include more than 400 integrated brokerages across North America. Today, HUB is one of the largest insurance brokers in the world. Our network is broad, deep, and represents a one-of-a-kind aggregation of insurance entrepreneurs with a deep knowledge of the big issues you’re facing right now—and those that will affect you in the future. Get the latest business insurance insights.