Ransomware has become a major problem for companies of all sizes. Attacks using ransomware grew by 485% in 2020, and now one of the farthest-reaching attacks has impacted Americans with skyrocketing gas prices.
Colonial Pipeline, which is a system of 5,500 miles of pipeline that carries refined petroleum products (gasoline, diesel, heating oil, jet fuel) from the Gulf Coast to the East Coast, was shut down on May 7th due to a ransomware attack.
The pipeline runs from Houston, Texas to Linden, New Jersey, and delivers 2.5 million barrels per day, so its shutdown had far-reaching impacts that are still being felt in higher gas prices.
Even after the pipeline resumed operations, after paying a ransom of about $5 million, shortages were persisting. It was reported that 80% of gas stations in Washington DC were out of gas, along with 63% of stations in North Carolina and over 40% in South Carolina and Georgia.
Another impact from this single ransomware attack was that gas prices shot up to over $3 per gallon nationwide, which is the highest they’ve been since 2014.
This Is Becoming an Epidemic
Ransomware is becoming an epidemic and an expensive one for companies throughout the country. As companies pay the ransom to get their systems back up and running, it affirms to criminal organizations that this is a good business model for them.
Another attack of a large U.S. company was reported on May 31, 2021. The large food company, JBS Foods, was hit with a cyberattack that shut down its production. Since the attack just happened at the time of this writing, it’s still being investigated to see if this is also ransomware or another type of attack.
This one also can have wide-reaching impacts because JBS Foods is the world’s largest beef and poultry supplier and second-largest pork producer. Its brands include Pilgrim’s Pride, Swift, Prime, Moy Park, and others.
Any Size Company Can Be a Target
While Colonial Pipeline is an example of a high-profile ransomware attack, many smaller companies are attacked as well. Hackers cast a wide net and more have been joining in as attacks have become easier to undertake.
Large criminal cartels have turned to cybercrime as a lucrative business. And they don’t only perpetrate attacks themselves, they also provide Ransomware as a Service, which mimics the Software as a Service trend of the last several years.
This means that a novice can pay to get a kit to easily conduct a ransomware attack. It only takes a few ransom payments to make it worth the time and effort.
In a survey by IBM Security, it was found that a surprising 70% of ransomware victims actually pay the ransom to get their data back and operations going again. Ransom amounts will vary, but they have been getting larger. The survey found that:
- 20% of victims paid ransoms of over $40,000.
- 25% of victims paid ransoms of between $20,000-$40,000.
The devastating nature of ransomware encrypts a company’s data and quickly spreads as fast as possible. Organizations often aren’t prepared for the complete shutdown of their operations because of an infection and pay the ransom because they don’t have a backup and recovery plan.
How to Protect Your Business From Ransomware
Protecting your business from a ransomware attack includes a two-pronged strategy. One is prevention and the other is recovery.
Most ransomware attacks, just like other types of cyberattacks, begin with phishing emails. It’s important to implement safeguards that defend against these emails.
- Ongoing employee security awareness training
- Spam/phishing filter
- DNS filter (to block phishing websites)
- Managed Antivirus/anti-malware for PCs and mobile devices
Why do so many companies (even larger ones) end up paying the ransom demanded in a ransomware attack? Because they haven’t properly prepared.
It’s vital to have a complete backup of all your data. Ransomware is designed to spread fast throughout a company network and can infect computers, mobile devices, servers, and cloud storage that is syncing with an infected device.
All data that you have, no matter where it’s being stored, should have a protected backup copy that can be retrieved fast when needed.
Not all backup systems are created equal. Some companies that have a backup still end up paying the ransom because their backup system doesn’t include a comprehensive recovery component. The clock is ticking when your entire operations are down, so without fast recovery, a backup sometimes isn’t enough to avoid a ransom.
Ensure your backup is both a backup and recovery platform that’s designed for fast and full restoration of data.
It’s also important to have an action plan in place. This ensures that everyone knows what to do in the event of ransomware or another type of cyberattack. The faster you can spring into action, the lower your overall costs.
Need Help With a Ransomware Protection Plan?
Two River Computer can help your Fair Haven, NJ business safeguard against ransomware attacks with a strong business continuity and IT security plan.
Contact us today for a free consultation. Call 732-747-0020 or reach us online.