Cybersecurity company urges businesses to protect against ransomware attacks

Updated: May. 13, 2021 at 11:27 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Gas price increases from the ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline are likely to remain above average for weeks to come, and despite the pain it’s causing to our pocketbooks, cybersecurity experts say ransomware attacks could hit even closer to home if we’re not careful.

Michael Pfaff, the Director of Operations at Network Data Security Experts (NDSE), says that since the Colonial Pipeline breach his business has been busier than ever assessing the security of his clients.

“Feeling the effects of it is an entirely different story. It can destroy a business instantaneously, it can ruin a personal life if it happens,” Michael Pfaff said.

Pfaff says while individuals can become the targets of ransomware, cyber-criminals are usually targeting businesses.

“The intent is to collect a monetary payout,” Pfaff said. “It’s the businesses they want because the basic consumer is not going to pay out a massive ransom where a business will.”

The Colonial Pipeline paid nearly $5 million in order to regain control of its systems to begin distributing gas to the east coast. Pfaff says the fact that a major pipeline fell victim to ransomware should be a red flag to businesses, local governments and even school systems.

Back in 2019, New Kent County Public Schools had their entire system locked up from a ransomware attack.

“Businesses are breached typically by the actions of not practicing what we do at work, as well as what we do at home. So, it’s important to do both,” Pfaff said. “Take security posture the way you do at work the same way you do at home, that way we’re in the habit of protecting ourselves.”

Pfaff says businesses need to regularly update their security such as firmware and firewalls. I.T. teams should also be checking for vulnerabilities in digital security and making sure that notifications aren’t ignored.

“Every business right now should be doing a risk assessment. That is one of the most important things that need to be done at this moment,” Pfaff said. “They need to be taken a little more seriously than they ever have in the past.”

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