Ah, the busy (we hope) holiday season is now here. With that in mind, I thought it might be helpful to remind you of something we at Hayes International learned decades ago, and that is ‘once a previously successful thief’s money supply is taken away in one location, they rapidly shift their focus towards finding another, easily accessible victim’. Now, with that said, let’s go back to a headliner that has been driving local and city governments crazy over the past few months … Ransomware.
Surely by now, you have heard of the devastation that ransomware and other cyber hackers have brought on a wide-spread number of locations. According to one report, “In July, the US Conference of Mayors reported that there have been 22 ransomware attacks on city, county, and state governments in the first six months of 2019.”
Folks, now with all types of government agencies across the nation taking practically every conceivable step available to shore up their risks, I believe that these opportunistic criminals are already looking to identify their next victim.
Could it be your organization? Just imagine how crippling such an attack would have on a retailer, especially during the busy holiday season.
Nah, it won’t happen to you … Don’t get too comfortable. Reduce your risk. There are several preventative measures you can take. First, understand that I am not a cybercrime expert. But there are a few basic things every organization can do:
1.) Ensure that your anti-malware programs are up-to-date. Several vendors offer software programs that safeguard against ransomware and other threats. (PCMag.com has a good article, “The Best Anti-virus Protection for 2019.” Also, several other websites can be found that list antivirus software reviews.)
2.) Most ransomware/cybercrime programs are designed to penetrate Windows computers. Check out what Microsoft has available.
3.) Keep your operating system patched and up-to-date to minimize risks.
4.) Do not install software or give it administrative privileges unless you know exactly what it is and what it does.
5.) Back up your files, frequently and automatically! That won’t stop a malware attack, but it can make the damage much less significant.
In 2016, the FBI estimated that more than $1 billion USD in ransom payments were made. I remember back years ago, the notorious bank robber, Willie Sutton, was asked why he robbed banks. Sutton simply answered, ‘That’s where the money is.’ Folks, today Ransomware is where the money is. So, once those more recent and non-retail victims get better at reducing their risk to these extortion crimes, these criminals will move on to other lucrative targets.
Don’t let your company become their next victim. Have a Great and Successful Holiday Season!