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In case you’ve been avoiding the news, now is a critical time to ask if your organization is armed against ransomware attacks. Because while ransomware survival isn’t a new challenge for technology leaders, it’s a national security topic that is dominating global news and government agendas. The Colonial Pipeline and JBS hackings are a stark cautionary tale on the importance of factoring security into your disaster recovery strategy. And it isn’t just government officials and news anchors talking about ransomware, it’s become a national topic with growing consumer visibility as the nation braces for potential cost increases and shortages of everyday necessities.

Ransomware sparked a national dialogue in 2020 after a Russian hacking group bypassed multi-factor authentication and rocked the international business community with the SolarWinds cyberattack.

The stakes were already high, with an OFAC advisory that came earlier in the year, warning business IT leaders that their organizations can be fined and sanctioned for paying ransomware hackers identified as cyber terrorists by the United States and its allies. Since then the cybersecurity threat has plagued governments and business communities in a much more visible way.

Paying the ransom only fuels more attacks.

In a national news conference, the Deputy National Security Advisor pinpointed one of the main factors driving the increase in ransomware attacks. “The misuse of cryptocurrency is a massive enabler here,” explained Deputy National Security Advisor Anne Neuberger. “That’s the way folks get the money out of it. On the rise of anonymity and enhancing cryptocurrencies, the rise of mixer services that essentially launder funds.”
“Individual companies feel under pressure—particularly if they haven’t done the cybersecurity work—to pay off the ransom and move on,” Neuberger added. “But in the long-term, that’s what drives the ongoing ransom [attacks]. The more [ransomware hackers] get paid the more it drives bigger and bigger ransoms and more and more potential disruption.”
That’s key, and Neuberger highlighted a critical factor here: organizations who haven’t done the cybersecurity work feel the pressure under attack.

Don’t be the next national ransomware headline.

Successful ransomware attacks are penetrating the U.S. business enterprise and economy with devastating consequences, and the FBI anticipates a continued surge. But there’s good news, preventing a ransomware attack doesn’t have to be difficult. If securing your organization wasn’t your first priority before it should be now. Because you don’t want your organization to be the next news story like the leading beef supplier who paid an eye-popping $11M in ransom. Costs that economists are speculating could be passed onto consumers directly.

And while cyberattacks against the American enterprise increased by 80% in 2020 with phishing attempts jumping by 600%, the Biden administration is preparing for a massive increase to come.

While the FBI and other agencies are hard at work to prevent further cyber attacks felt across the country, there is no silver bullet when it against ransomware attacks. There is no shortcut to doing the cybersecurity work because prevention is the only concrete solution.

Having a solid backup and security strategy can guard your organization and your customers against becoming a statistic, making your data accessible in seconds or moments to avoid far-reaching economic consequences that can damage a company’s image forever.

How to assess your ransomware preparedness?

The NIST Cybersecurity Framework has become the industry standard for gauging how integrated cybersecurity risk decisions are factored into big-picture business operations. It uses four tiers to measure cybersecurity risk: partial, risk-informed, repeatable, and adaptable. A security assessment can help your organization quickly pinpoint risk factors and act to prevent them from becoming national news. Because ransomware attacks cost the enterprise $8B every year, and every dollar spent was preventable.

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