Though the attack was stopped within a few days, it affected over 300,000 computers across 150 countries, with the hardest hit being the National Health Service in the United Kingdom.
When faced with a ransomware attack, companies have two choices: pay a cryptocurrency ransom to regain control of their data or face the expense of having to recover their data and rebuild their computer infrastructure. Many companies struck by Wannacry simply paid the ransom, calculating that the $300 ransom was far easier to deal with than the alternative, but they did so with the knowledge that they were relying on the promises of criminal hackers, who are definitely ramping up their level of activity, as well as their demands. The ransom being demanded has been increasing over the last couple of years, and even when companies are paying the ransom only two thirds have been able to recover the files that had been impacted.
A prime example of the threats posed by ransomware can be seen in what has happened to the world’s medical institutions. In 2017, cyberattacks on the healthcare industry began turning away from large institutions which had invested in better technological protections to smaller facilities, including surgical centers and physician practices. According to Michael Simon, president and CEO of Cryptonite, “Cyberattackers target healthcare networks primarily for two reasons – to steal the medical records they contain or to extort ransom payments. Medical records are the targets of choice, as this data is highly prized to support identity theft and financial fraud.”
Another growing concern is the vulnerability and exposure of companies that are increasingly reliant on the Internet of Things (IoT). These devices and objects that communicate with each other, and the Internet, have introduced a sea change for both business logistics and consumer convenience: according to Gartner, there are 5.5 million new connected things each day, and Cisco estimates that IoT’s value will be 50 billion dollars by the year 2020. Unfortunately, very few IoT devices are properly secured, and a study by Hewlett Packard determined that 70% of Internet of Things devices are vulnerable to attack.
Whether a cyber attack’s target is a health institution, a credit bureau, or any other type of organization, the damage can be far reaching and expensive. Denial of service attacks can impact companies’ operations and leave customer data vulnerable to compromise, and hackers are getting more sophisticated, changing their ransom demands once they realize the value of what they have impacted. The costs are enormous, with ransomware attacks costing businesses well over $1 billion in 2016, an estimated $5 billion in 2017 and an anticipated $11.5 billion by 2019. These costs include:
- Damage to or loss of data
- Downtime and disruption
- Restoration and deletion of data and systems
- Employee education
- Cost to reputation
- Cost of lawsuits for data breach
Some companies are purchasing Bitcoin in preparation for ransomware attacks, despite warnings against rewarding bad behavior. To prevent attacks, companies should introduce employee education programs regarding cyber threats and phishing, as well as in IT protections such as secure backups and more sophisticated detection technology. If attacked companies should report what has happened, even if they pay the ransom, and communicate with customers. One way or another, it is expected that the attacks will continue.
Ransomware attacks can leave media and tech companies vulnerable to theft, cyber liability, reputational damage and personal liability for board members. It’s vital that you not only purchase Cyber Insurance, but that you buy the right size and shape of insurance. La Playa’s Cyber Insurance Policies are custom built for your individual business after a careful analysis of your activities and risk exposures. Contact us today to speak to an experienced representative about how to secure your organization.