Ransomware – Can it Happen to Me?
Many agencies and organizations feel like they’re too small or too unimportant to be targeted for a cyberattack. But as an agency’s digital presence grows, so does its exposure to the kind of cyberattacks that can damage operations and impact ability to protect sensitive data.
Most recently, more than 20 local government agencies in the state of Texas were targeted by cybercriminals using ransomware. Ransomware attacks are on the rise across the nation, with government entities from Baltimore to Atlanta and beyond losing operational efficiency due to cybercriminal activities.
Cybercriminals look for any vulnerability they can exploit to gain access to your files or system via an online vector. Any piece of equipment that is connected online and features out-of-date IT security programs, hardware, or software is fair game.
Ransomware attacks are on the rise across all sectors, and the trend is showing up in the number of insurance claims being tied to cyberattacks. Large insurer AIG compiled data showing that ransomware was the second most common cyber insurance claim filed, with nearly 26% of claims due to a ransomware breach.
The AIG report showed that a diverse number of sectors reported attacks—from healthcare industries to professional services and, of course, government agencies.
Mike Christman, who was once in charge of the FBI’s unit that deals with cybercrime, notes that cybercriminals understand entities like hospitals and governments are likely to pay the ransom on demand—because they can’t afford not to.
How Does Ransomware Work?
Quite simply, ransomware is a type of malware—malicious software—that inhibits access to computer files or an entire system until the organization pays the cybercriminals a specified sum of money.
Ransomware encrypts affected files to make them inaccessible, and the criminals offer a decryption key in return for the payoff.
And it’s so easy to have ransomware affect your system—much of it is delivered by email that prompts you to download an attachment or click a link. Some lurks on malicious websites and some even hitches a ride on social media to spread itself to any device connected online.
Government entities present a unique target for cyberattackers. First, government organizations are often resource-strapped, and they don’t spend adequate amounts on IT security, making them easy targets.
Second, since governments control sensitive data and oversee infrastructure critical to the everyday function of localities, cities, states, and even nations—a direct outage can more easily damage the general public.
The most important way to prevent ransomware from crippling your organization is to ensure that you have a consistent backup schedule and comprehensive data disaster recovery plan in place.
Also, having an active IT security program that keeps your equipment up-to-date with the latest critical updates for hardware or software is essential.
Ideally, updates should be installed as soon as they’re released, as cybercriminals are constantly developing new ways to foil IT security measures.
Working with an IT security provider that can identify risks and ensure that your data is protected according to compliance standards can go a long way toward managing potential threats and keeping your data safe.
Many organizations employ a Managed Services company that focuses explicitly on IT security, ensuring that your organization—and its data—are protected as it grows and changes.
Kelley Connect – Your IT Solutions Experts in Portland, Oregon
With over 40 years of providing IT Solutions to all types and sizes of organizations, Kelley Connect has the right kind of focused expertise to provide IT security to government agencies in the Portland, Oregon area.
Our highly-skilled team is equipped with the latest knowledge and tools to provide your network with the highest possible level of protection and keep you on the cutting-edge of cybersecurity.
If your agency needs advice on how to protect your data from ransomware, get in touch with one of Kelley Connect’s consultants today.