A cyber hack recently prompted a major U.S. energy pipeline operator to pause operations, causing a soar in gas demand. Other businesses and organizations all over the United States have either fallen victim to this type of attack or may fall victim soon.

These types of attacks are known as ransomware. This malicious software is  placed on your computer system by hackers to block access to your files until you pay them a ransom. One of the ways to discourage cybercrime and ransomware attacks is to “make it a less profitable endeavor,” according to Josephine Wolff, assistant professor of cybersecurity policy at The Fletcher School at Tufts University. “These groups will not continue to launch attacks if it’s not a viable business model,” she added. 

You can protect your data and reduce the opportunity for hackers to profit from attacks by implementing the following steps:

  1. Consult with your IT department to enable multifactor authentication (MFA) if possible. MFA prevents more than 96% of bulk phishing attempts and more than 76% of targeted attacks, according to Google Security Blog.
  2. Create file back-ups, data back-ups and back-up bandwidth capabilities. This will help you company to retain your information if extortion occurs. 42% of companies experienced a data loss event that resulted in downtime last year, according to security experts at Acronis. While those losses weren’t all associated with cyber attacks, they illustrate the need to have backups already in place in case a catastrophic event does occur. 
  3. Require unique passwords for emails and account access. According to Jon Niccolls, security expert from CheckPoint, “Some of the biggest security hacks we’ve seen started with a compromised email account.”  Set a company policy that passwords must be changed periodically and contain a certain number of characters, while also training your employees to spot email hacking efforts.  Using a password vault may help with keeping the information secure and readily accessible.
  4. Have an IT security plan in place and follow it, especially concerning updating security software patches in a timely manner. Regularly maintaining security protections on your operating system is vital to them being effective over time. Additionally, when you suspect a cyber attack, notify your IT security experts immediately.  
  5. Protect your business with insurance coverage designed to address cyber risks. Cyber insurance coverage typically provides protection for costs associated with data breaches and extortion events. The right insurance program will also provide access to skilled professionals to manage the event from start to finish. 

By implementing these steps now before you face an attack, you can help protect your business and your data. Our professionals at Shafer Insurance Agency are available to discuss your needs and help you design the coverage you need to manage your risks for the future.