Think cyber scammers that perpetrate ransomware attacks are easily defeated? Note this: When the WannaCry ransomware epidemic stuck in May 2017, scammers doubled down by targeting people who were already attacked and who were scrambling to retrieve their encrypted data. They sent them emails offering data protection, services that could prevent future attacks, and bogus WannaCry patches, all in an attempt to steal the beleaguered users’ personal information.
Another example happened in June, when a ransomware attack going by various names and featuring numerous variants crippled the networks and operation of several multinationals.
After June’s incidents, will ransomware, a kind of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money s paid, be considered a serious operational risk? Will companies devote the capital and effort to protect against it?
Having an actionable disaster recovery plan in place can make it easy to rebound after an attack with just a minimal impact on business operations. The most important measure one could take in this regard is to have a rigid security and disaster recovery (DR) in place.
At the user level, that means “exercising judgement and prudence while dealing with unknown data,” such as emails, attachments, PDFs, and JPEGs. At an organizational level, it means ensuring every user “is running the most up-to-date (operating system) versions and that incoming and outgoing data are properly vetted using state-of-the-art security procedures.”
There’s always short window of opportunity for attackers, when they can hack into systems and take control of critical data and applications before the OS vendors have had the opportunity to release a security patch. (The WannaCry and Petya ransomware attacks in May and June took advantage of vulnerabilities in an older Microsoft OS.)
Having a backup architecture that involves making multiple point-in-time copies of data across geographies provides protection against such eventualities. Moreover, the backup architecture must be smart enough to make copies of not just the date but the metadata as well. An organization that was backing up data and metadata in this manner would have been impervious to all the recent ransomware attacks.
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