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How to Prevent Ransomware Attacks

Last year, ransomware attacks totaled 65,000 in the United States, or seven attacks every hour. Unfortunately, the worst is yet to come for U.S. companies. Once seen as more of a nuisance, these attacks are quickly becoming a national security crisis, with recent attacks affecting crucial parts of our country’s infrastructure. So, why are these attacks occurring more frequently, and what can your company do the prevent (or at least reduce the impact) of a ransomware attack?

Notable ransomware attacks in 2021

Over the last few weeks, there have been two significant ransomware attacks – Colonial Pipeline and JBS Holdings. In May 2021, the computer networks of Colonial Pipelines, America’s largest fuel pipeline operator, were attacked. Colonial is responsible for delivering 45% of fuel along the East Coast, and word of the attack ignited panic-buying, causing fuel shortages. Similarly, cybercriminals attacked JBS, the world’s largest meat supplier (by sales). This attack brought 13 of JBS’s meat processing plants to a screeching halt and will undoubtedly impact meat prices and supply.

Why are ransomware attacks becoming more prevalent?

Luckily, both Colonial and JBS were up and running quickly; however, not without a cost. Both companies willingly paid a ransomware payment. Colonial decided to pay the Russian cybercriminals $4.4 million in Bitcoin to unlock its IT systems. Fortunately, the U.S. Justice Department later recovered most of the Bitcoin ransom. JBS agreed to pay their attackers $11 million in Bitcoin.

So, why did these two companies agree to pay their attackers? JBS paid their attackers to “to prevent further disruptions of the meat plants, mitigating potential damage to the food supply.” Similarly, Colonial paid their attackers to avoid a prolonged shutdown, and they were fearful of how long it would take to restore operations. So the short answer of why these attacks are becoming more prevalent is because they are working and becoming more lucrative.

How to prevent ransomware attacks

Your company’s best offense is a solid defense. The best thing you can do to prevent a ransomware attack is to build a strong defense and mitigation plan. With more employees working from home than ever before, it’s crucial to remind them of best practices. Regularly remind your work from home staff about potential threats and what to do if something doesn’t seem right. If your employees are using public Wi-Fi networks, encourage them to use VPN services. With many people working remotely, they may be accessing public networks, which are more vulnerable to attacks.

It’s also vital for your IT team to regularly backup your IT services. In the event of an attack, your team will be able to quickly recover your services to normal. Also, with regular backups, you may be able to avoid one of these astronomical ransomware payments by restoring your services from a recent backup.

When in doubt, contact a professional

If you really want to build a strong defense against ransomware, you can partner with a consulting company. At JSG, our IT consulting professionals can help you construct a mitigation plan to be prepared in the event of an attack. Additionally, we can help you secure and back up all your services to ensure you are protected from ransomware, which can save you tons of money, maintain your brand’s integrity, and keep business running smoothly. If you are interested in learning more about our IT Consulting Services at JSG, reach out to us today!