Keep Cybercriminals on the “Naughty List” This Holiday Season
Ransomware Protection
Ransomware Protection

Keep Cybercriminals on the “Naughty List” This Holiday Season

December 22, 2022

Is Protecting Your Data from a Ransomware Attack on your Holiday Wish List This Year?

For most of us, the holiday season is about relaxation, spending time with family, and detaching from the nuances of everyday stress and routine.  

However, for hackers and other bad actors, there is “no rest for the wicked.” They don't take holidays off — they become even more active, preying on the good nature of people around this time of year. History has proven that they’ll take full advantage of the holidays to attack, shut down, or undermanned businesses when they least expect it.

Both the FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) keep a running log of ransomware attacks and subsequent measures.

“Highly impactful” ransomware attacks occur most frequently during holidays and weekends (anytime people are away from the office) and CISA warns organizations to remain vigilant against such attacks. Here are some numbers:

“Holiday ransomware attacks take longer to respond to and recover from, resulting in more damage, more downtime, and increased loss of revenue.”

According to Organizations at Risk: Ransomware Attackers Don’t Take Holidays, a global study on weekend and holiday ransomware attacks, more than 1,200 surveyed cybersecurity professionals working in companies with more than 700 employees responded:

  • They missed celebrating a holiday as a result of a ransomware attack: 88%.
  • They're concerned about holiday attacks: 90%
  • They don’t have a specific plan in place to address the increased risk on holidays despite previous attacks: 25%

With the holiday season upon us, it could be “go-time” for cybercriminals to attack. Are you ready to recover from a ransomware attack?

“Having a ransomware preparedness plan is your best defense against cybercriminals and a ruined holiday season.”

With the global threat of ransomware on the rise, both small and large organizations continue to fight the good fight. As cybersecurity threats evolve and grow in sophistication, and as more and more companies migrate to a hybrid-cloud infrastructure, organizations are taking a more in-depth look at their current strategy and figuring out different ways to manage and approach their existing and/or new ransomware preparedness plan.  

Critical Steps in Developing and Executing Strategic Ransomware Plans

Cybersecurity professionals view the development and execution of strategic planning as consisting of three critical steps: formulation, implementation, and evaluation.  

All three of these steps are critical when it comes to combating ransomware and creating a cost-effective, ransomware-ready preparedness plan while also minimizing the risk of potential long-term damage — some damage is so great that companies never recover, like Wood Ranch Medical Center in Simi Valley, CA.

In the recently published State of Ransomware Preparedness Report, a survey conducted by ActualTech Media and commissioned by HYCU, we collected insights from roughly 400 respondents and collected key data points to understand their preparedness to withstand a ransomware attack.  

6 Considerations When Developing Your Ransomware Preparedness Plan

We looked at the level of effort required to execute a ransomware preparedness plan and gain further insight into the resulting overall recovery capabilities of an organization. We narrowed it down to six key areas to address.

Question #1: Has your organization ever experienced a ransomware incident of any size that resulted in infiltration and/or encryption?

We believe there are two types of organizations – those that have been the victim of a ransomware attack and those that have not . . . yet. It’s not a matter of if but when.  

“Proper preparation, detection, and recovery capabilities are vital regardless of your company's history of ransomware attacks.”

Question #2: Did your organization experience data loss, operational disruption, loss of revenue, loss of customers, reputational damage, or have to pay a ransom?

Your prevention strategy and recovery capabilities need to be well thought out — both are equally important. Your prevention strategy must include a strong backup plan, so your organization doesn't experience data loss following a successful attack.  

Question #3: Is your business proactively planning for ransomware attacks?

Most organizations consistently revisit ransomware response mitigation plans. Other companies don't and have revealed they're totally unprepared for an attack.  

Question #4: Does your organization’s board have any level of involvement in your cybersecurity posture, including ransomware prevention efforts?

It's important that you involve your Board of Directors in ransomware preparedness strategies. Your board has a stake in —and should also have a say in —your strategic planning. Keeping your board involved should become an intentional practice.

Question #5: Have you implemented comprehensive information security, email, and ransomware training programs in your organization?

The fact that 70% of employees have admitted to being under the influence while responsible for guarding employers' systems. It begs the question —how much higher is the actual number considering some employees may refrain from admitting something with such dire consequences? But being irresponsible and making a simple error are two different things.  

Employees who haven't been properly trained can make an irredeemable mistake because they didn't know the proper protocol or best practices. All companies should take the necessary steps to properly train employees on security measures and ensure their employees' irresponsibility or ignorance doesn't bring down the entire organization.  

“Humans are the weakest link and it’s almost always due to lack of training or simple human error.”

Question #6: How has the risk of work-from-home impacted your ransomware protection and remediation efforts?

As we deal with the convergence of new global threats and the uncertainty surrounding them, many respondents feel that the rise in work-from-home capability has created a whole new set of risks and complications in battling ransomware.  

“Your policies, procedures, and tools must adapt to ensure protection regardless of employee and workload location.”

Final Thoughts

If you participated in this same survey, how would your answers/results stack up against these respondents?  

What does your ransomware risk and preparation strategy look like?

Is your organization as prepared as it should be? Download the report today and find out.

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