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Ransomware the hits keep coming going into 2020


By now, we’ve all heard about someone affected by ransomware. If it wasn’t a friend’s business, or a company you do business with, or the town you live in, or the hospital you visit – all you have to do is look at the news to see major enterprises being attacked and ‘taken out’ by this nefarious deed.  As long as people pay, the bad guys will keep using it as a tool. After all, they’re just chasing the money. 


So why do I title this “the good, the bad and the ugly”?  Well, if you’ve been hit, you know the bad part.  It’s expensive in both dollars and perception.  What good can come of ransomware? And besides the rising ransom amount, why is it about to get uglier! 


First, the good part.


It raises awareness that the bad guys are afoot. Wherever there’s profit, fame, political gain and more, there will be someone to play the villain (or hire them) to get the goods. Technology just made it easier. So, the good news is that you know about it!  


Second, the bad part.


Knowledge without action is a travesty. It would be even better if you acted on that knowledge and improved your defenses. Backups and disaster recovery plans are hopefully in place, but don’t assume YOUR backups and DR plans are solid.  Test them occasionally to find the problem before you need a restore. I can’t tell you how many businesses think their backups are solid to find out differently after the attack. 


Internet access should be a privilege, not a right. Virtually nobody should have unfettered access to any website they want. Users should get internet access based on their role in the company, not because they have a computer and a browser. ALL emails and internet access should be filtered, blocked, logged and if needed, analyzed. You need to be current on patches, antivirus, spam filtering, blah blah blah.  Sorry if I lost you there, but we’ve been beating that drum for years.  In fact, you might want to take away the internet from your users – let users surf only on their phones, on the guest wifi and NOT the corporate wifi.  Perhaps provide an internet kiosk that’s separate from the corporate network. 


Lastly, the ugly


The *really* ugly. Once you get ransomedyou can no longer assume that it’ll just lock your files up. That data of yours (oh, customer files, payroll info, vendor lists, etc.)  could have just as easily been copied to the attackers and then encrypted. So now, you don’t have your customer spreadsheet, but the bad guys do!  Imagine the horror when they go to all your clients to tell them you’ve been hacked and they have all this data about YOUR customers! If you are under HIPAA, you might as well close up shop, the HIPAA fines alone will knock a small practice down and out. What customer will solicit a company that not only leaked their information, but that same confidential information was POSTED on FaceBook? The depravity and damage can only be imagined at this time. 


So, if you got ransomed, and all you lost was a few (thousand) bucks, consider yourself lucky. It’s about to get a whole lot uglier.  The cities of Atlanta, Pensacola, and Baltimore will agree! 


Happy New Year to all and may 2020 be brighter, smarter and safer. 

If you liked reading the “Twelfth Day of ECHO” return to our main list to read all of the other “12 Days of ECHO” posts.


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