If it seems like every couple of weeks there’s a cyber-incident dominating the evening news; it’s because there truly is. Cyber-Attacks, especially those involving Ransomware, have taken center stage in news coverage since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. And now, with the situation in Ukraine, the Cyberthreat is even greater.
The substantial incidents understandably get the most coverage. Stories such as July’s attack on Microsoft Exchange that compromised over 100,000 networks, May’s shutdown of the world’s largest meat processor, and the oh-so-well-known Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack that crippled the US energy industry are just a few examples. However, small to midsize businesses are suffering too. At a surprisingly high rate – 300% more than before the pandemic per the FBI.
Ransomware is not a new attack style, but it is very effective. Because of that, it has become the preferred method of cyber-criminal exploitation. As a result, all businesses are exposed to it and need to be aware of this potential issue.
Ransomware is uniquely dangerous because, unlike other attacks that involve stealing data or convincing employees to transfer money, Ransomware takes advantage of a world now closing in on 46 Billion internet-connected devices.
Take a few seconds to review your business mentally. There are likely more digitally connected devices than you think - and chances are those devices play an essential role in your day-to-day operations. Ransomware was designed to exploit that weakness by simply denying users access to their network and digital files unless a ransom is paid to unlock the systems, essentially holding your business hostage until you pay up.
Think about that. Can you imagine walking into work to find that not a single device on your network is usable? That often includes machinery. Oh, and there’s a pop-up on your screen demanding payment in Ethereum to regain control. What’s Ethereum? Why is this happening?
After the initial shock wears off and you realize you’re experiencing a cyber-attack, the real questions begin. Can you restore the system? Did they infiltrate our backups? If you can restore, what backup version do you have? Last weeks? Last months? Last years? If you decide to pay the ransom, can you secure the payment method? Generally, Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies like Ethereum are the preferred payment methods. Even if the criminals cooperate, how do you know the system is clean once restored?
Payment is not the only issue. Businesses also have to deal with fallout well beyond just paying the ransom. Adverse publicity, replacing equipment, retaining clients, and remaining operational while the breach is remediated are all secondary issues that compromised businesses deal with.
That’s the scary reality many businesses face. But, that’s also where the value of a good insurance program can help. Beyond just the coverage limits that financially indemnify you, the specific expertise of cyber remediation teams is an invaluable part of cyber insurance. Negotiating with criminals, securing payment, scanning systems, and allowing you to focus on running your business are just a few of the additional services that genuinely make a difference when businesses are attacked.
Another area cyber insurance is vital in your protection is in the proactive services carriers are now offering. Many offer free risk management tools such as dark web scans, compliance audits, employee training, and push notifications, all devices designed to avoid attacks in the first place. Some carriers have also partnered with vendors to provide discounts on more hands-on tools such as multi-factor authentication, email threat scanning, and encryption backup services which are widely considered best business practices. As a result, most carriers require those three services for eligibility.
The cyber-world is dangerous, even for businesses that are prepared. Good housekeeping policies and employee training remain an excellent first step. However, cybercriminals only need to trick one employee once, while companies must block 100% of all attacks. Therefore, cyber insurance becomes a critical risk management tool for any business with those types of odds. That way, if you’re adequately covered, you can rest assured that there will be a team waiting, plan in place, and ready to help should you ever need it.