Jim Dudlicek, NGA Director of Communications and External Affairs
It’s been all over the news lately: Hackers are targeting retailers with ransomware, paralyzing businesses until their payment demands are met.
What exactly is ransomware? How does it work? What should your response be if you’re targeted, and how can you prevent ransomware attacks and secure your business?
NGA hosted a recent webinar to explore these issues. The discussion was led by Ken Andrews, president of Millennium Digital Technologies, and John Ross, CEO of the Independent Grocers Alliance (IGA). Andrews and Ross will be leading a session about ransomware at the 2021 NGA Show, Sept. 19-21 in Las Vegas.
Here are some key takeaways from the discussion:
Yes, it CAN happen to you. Don’t think that cybercriminals aren’t interested in you because you’re “just” a small independent grocer. In fact, business size doesn’t matter and small independents are actually often at most risk. Automation and artificial intelligence are making attacks easier, cheaper and more effective for criminals to carry out, so they can cast a wide net. Ransomware kits can be purchased online for as little as $50. About 25% of ransomware victims make a payment; the average ransom demand in 2020 was $178,000. In 2021, a company will be hit by a ransomware attack every 11 seconds.
It’s not just about the money. Ransomware attacks have wide-ranging and often unpredictable effects on a business: loss of sales, loss of customer confidence, loss of productivity, inability to order or pay bills, and in the case of data loss, PCI, PII, HIPAA or other expenses.
A basic firewall isn’t enough to protect most businesses from ransomware attacks. An effective security system will have layered defenses, with each layer being an additional fail-safe that offers an opportunity to stop or detect an attack. A firewall is just the first layer, but the most important since it’s directly connected to the internet. Further layers separate systems into groups by function or sensitivity.
Recognize the signs. Ransomware is most often delivered by malicious “phishing” e-mails that entice users to click links that deliver the attack. E-mail phishing attacks represent more than 80% of reported incidents. It can also come via spoofed websites or search results and chat or social media applications, as well as through removeable USB drives or vulnerable browser plug-ins. Be suspicious of any application you don’t recognize. The attacker’s goal is to establish a presence on your network, infect your systems and lock them out until you pay the ransom.
The best defense against a ransomware attack is a strong offense to prevent it from occurring in the first place. Prohibit web browsing and e-mail usage on sensitive systems. Install commercial-grade protection on all systems and apply all patches and updates. Segment sensitive systems from other systems. Backup systems regularly and test restore processes. Consider hiring an expert to help you implement and maintain your cybersecurity system.
To view this webinar, click the following link: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/8843835333877869837