Ransomware

Ransomware Attack costs Baltimore $18 Million

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On May 7th 2019, Baltimore city officials announced that a relatively new strain of ransomware labeled “Robbinhood” by The Baltimore Sun had encrypted important data including email, voice messaging, the city wide parking ticket database, and the cities utility and tax payment system. It has been determined that the hackers got in via a phishing email- a phony message tricking network users into giving hackers their credentials.

The Maryland city is still struggling to respond to hackers as over a month later as Baltimore city mayor Bernard Young has refused to pay the ransom of $100,000 in Bitcoin (an online currency that is hard to trace and has a wildly fluctuating value). Since refusing to pay the ransom the hackers have gone on twitter taunting Mayor Young posting faxes and other materials that the twitter account claims is evidence that they have been inside the cities network.

In a direct message to a Baltimore Sun reporter on Twitter, the account claiming to be the hackers said they have “ Financial documents and citizens personal information” and went as far as to release them on the dark web.

It is estimated that the total cost of the ransomware attack is going to cost the city of Baltimore over 18.2 million dollars- and that is assuming the hackers do not leak financial or citizen’s information onto the dark web.

How this could have been avoided

  1. Offsite Data Backup

    If the city of Baltimore had been backing up their data to either the cloud, offsite servers, or a combination of both, they would have had a recent backup to fall back on and continue operations with the only data being lost was that since the last back up. Trusted IT partners like Current Technologies can help implement regularly scheduled offsite backups and help you restore your data in the event of a would be catastrophe.

  2. Cyber-Security Protection

    Many ransomware attacks that hit cities or businesses occur due to outdated security technologies like firewalls or anti-virus software. In today’s day and age, hackers can scan thousands of organizations looking for specific vulnerabilities that only the latest software and hardware can prevent. This is why it is important to consult with your IT provider regularly to insure that your data is kept safe.

  3. Employee Training

    The entire Baltimore city hacking could have prevented had one employee not mistakenly given their credentials to a phishing email. It is important to have regular discussions with employees about good internet practices. Important practices include reporting spam emails, avoiding suspicious links and online ads, and regularly changing and strengthening passwords.

The threat of a cyber attack is never ending, and a majority of events like this occur to small businesses and cities and if it happened to a large city like Baltimore, it can definitely happen to you. No solution will be 100% effective, however the more security layers you have in place the safer you will be. If you are concerned that this could happen to your organization, contact the security experts at Current Technologies. Our IT team will help with data encryption, offsite backups, monitoring and disaster recovery. If you have your own IT team but are still worried, Current Technologies can bring you the latest versions of security software and hardware to make your IT team as effective as possible.

Reminder: There is a Hacking Attempt Every 39 Seconds

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Four ways to Enhance your Endpoint Security

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It's quite likely you use several devices, such as a smartphone, tablet, and a laptop or desktop PC, to run your business. Each device, however, represents an access point for threats like viruses and malware. Endpoint security aims to secure these network 'endpoints' so that suspicious online activities are blocked at the point of entry.

The need for endpoint security has risen sharply, particularly in response to the rise in mobile threats and the growing internet of things (IoT). Most vulnerable are small-medium businesses (SMBs) with offsite employees who need to access the company's network. But the reality is that all businesses are at risk, given today’s ever-shifting and undefinable security perimeter.

So, what are today’s SMB leaders doing when it comes to endpoint security? How can you ensure every tech outpost in your business is secure? Here are four key strategies.

1. Remove or limit administrative access

Most employees don't need administrative rights to perform their day-to-day jobs. If an endpoint app does require administrative access to your network, it can be added to a database of approved programs by an access control tool. Limiting administrative access in this manner can greatly limit damage within your core network caused by an attacker who is targeting the endpoint device.

2. Use advanced authentication

Many successful endpoint breaches are the result of employees using the same password across multiple sites. If just one site is compromised, it's only a matter of time before your business network is broken into. Two-factor authentication fixes this problem by requiring extra credentials to access the system, such as a fingerprint scanner, token code, smart card or additional questions. This blocks attackers even if the password has been stolen.

3. Keep your systems up to date

New security vulnerabilities are being discovered all the time. Hackers are constantly keeping watch – and using them against SMBs to find out which ones neglected to patch their systems. If you use various endpoint devices in your business, it's important to ensure your business apps, anti-malware programs and other security tools are kept up to date with the latest security patches and virus definitions.

4. Conduct security training and awareness sessions

A recent IBM study found that 60 percent of business data breaches originate from employees, with about a quarter of these being accidental. Ongoing awareness and training on security best practices, in areas such as data encryption, password security and BYOD (bring your own device), can help keep your network safe.

As your data network gains more endpoints, the number and variety of cyber risks will only increase. These steps will help to ensure that your SMB is better protected and more resilient against online attacks.

We can help you prepare for the worst

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