We have all seen ransomware become more sophisticated, regardless of where we live or work. And the cyber assaults seem to be never ending. Just as security and protocols are developed to keep your network secure, hackers use ransomware to go after educational institutions. As colleges and high schools work quickly to develop offsite backup and recovery solutions to protect them from having to pay ransoms in order to access their data, government offices became the target. Even as technology has made us more efficient and more capable, it has also made us more vulnerable when we don’t implement the right solutions to protect our homes and businesses from these types of attacks. And the biggest threat from ransomware is yet to come: infrastructure threats.
Consider what has happened so far:
- Hospitals and other medical facilities are being targeted. In 2016, hospitals were specifically targeted using Locky ransomware, with one LA hospital paying a $17,000 bitcoin ransom to access their files.
- Utilities are at risk. In April 2016, the Lansing Board of Water & Light (BWL) in Michigan was the victim of a ransomware scheme that has cost the utility nearly $2 million.
- Guests held hostage. In a unique display of cyber hacking, a luxury hotel in Austria was forced to pay an $1,800 bitcoin ransom after hackers accessed the hotel room keycards and locked the guests out of their rooms.
It’s likely that the next threat will be even more insidious, as hackers develop methods for compromising entire systems. Georgia Institute of Technology, recognizing the risk to programmable logic controllers (PLCs), developed ransomware with which they could take control of a simulated water treatment plant, gaining access to PLCs to control valves and additives, and even create false readings. While this was a simulation designed to help understand how to prevent an attack, the risk is real.
Act Now to Prepare for a Ransomware Attack
Businesses of all sizes and in all industries, government entities, schools K-16 and beyond, and individuals must all do their part to prevent ransomware. We must become far more selective about the emails we open, read, and forward, giving special attention to the links we click and the attachments we open. We must invest heavily in better security, from virus software to endpoint detection. We must all take steps to thwart hackers.
At thinkCSC, we believe that in order to achieve maximum success, regardless of the size or type of organization, you must make IT an integral part of your overall business strategy and partner with IT professionals who not only understand how to leverage technology to their advantage but who are also committed to understanding your business goals and aligning your IT strategy to them. We pride ourselves on having the best business-savvy technical experts in the industry. If you would like to learn how to create an IT security strategy aligned with your organizational goals, contact thinkCSC for more information.