In 2020, ransomware attacks rose by nearly 150 percent compared to the previous year. Criminal groups now routinely target businesses and other organizations by encrypting critical data and demanding large ransoms for the decryption keys. Here are three of the most devastating ransomware attacks that took place in 2020, as well as some of the most important strategies your business can use to protect itself from this increasingly common form of cyber crime.
On February 17, 2020, Danish facilities management company ISS World was subjected to a massive ransomware attack that effectively dismantled its technology infrastructure; in addition to key systems going offline, the company’s hundreds of thousands of workers were prevented from accessing their work emails, crippling even basic communications within and between teams.
It took ISS world more than a month to re-establish control over the majority of its systems, and the company said at the time that it would likely be dealing with the repercussions of the attack until the end of 2021. Between recovery, rebuilding IT infrastructure and putting new security protocols in place, the total cost imposed on ISS World by the attack has been estimated at up to $112.4 million.
Japanese automaker Honda suffered a major ransomware attack in June of 2020. Attackers successfully inserted a piece of ransomware known as Snake into one of the company’s servers and encrypted the data stored on it. The attack affected facilities in Japan, Europe and the United States. While the cost of mitigating the attack and recovering the lost data is unclear, it is known that the attack directly affected the company’s production facilities.
Argentine Department of National Migration
Although ransomware attacks usually target private companies, 2020 offered several reminders that educational institutions and even government entities are also vulnerable. In August, the Argentine Department of National Migration shut down all border crossings for several hours due to a NetWalker ransomware attack.
The attackers ultimately demanded a ransom of $4 million from the Argentine government to restore access to the encrypted data. The ability to halt movement in and out of an entire country was a high mark for the ability of ransomware attacks to disrupt governmental affairs on such a large scale.
How to Protect Your Business
Each one of these attacks acts as a cautionary tale for businesses concerned with their cybersecurity. To prevent your business from becoming the next unfortunate victim of a ransomware attack, there are a few basic steps you should take.
One of the most effective is implementing a content filtering system for your employees’ emails to prevent malicious links from being accidentally clicked by unsuspecting workers. Such a system, paired with comprehensive training to help your staff recognize suspicious email content, can help prevent hackers from accessing your network by emailing employees directly.
Regularly updating and patching your computers is also critical. As new security flaws are discovered, software companies create patches to shore them up. Ensuring that all of your company computers are using the latest versions of all software is an effective way to prevent known vulnerabilities from being exploited by hackers. This process should also include regularly updating your antivirus software.
Finally, it’s well worth investing in managed IT security services. A managed services provider is vital to helping your company enhance its cybersecurity through the proper combination of software, training and good security practices. An MSP can also provide your business with an independent data backup that can be used to quickly recover from a ransomware attack without capitulating to the demands of hackers.