Q: What steps should business leaders take to counter ransomware and other cyberattacks?
A: Technology is the brain behind the success of most companies, organizations and countries. Often, people in the technology space spend a huge amount of money protecting their networks, systems and data.
Still, cyberattacks have become rampant. And just as other great advancements have been chalked in the IT space over the years, attackers also have been changing forms and developing new ways of breaking through computer systems and networks.
Recently, high-level cyberattacks have threatened organizations around the world. Last year, Brazil’s JBS, the world’s largest meat processor, had its operations in the U.S., Australia and Canada halted because of an attack targeting the company’s supply chain.
This caused massive, although temporary, food-price inflation to the countries it supplies its products. To stop this from further hampering operations, a ransom of $11 million was paid to the group involved in this attack.
The major problem of tracking and finding persons involved in these attacks has been the emergence of cryptocurrencies. Cryptocurrencies have fueled a wave of ransomware attacks of about $1.4 billion in the U.S. alone. This is because bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are difficult to trace. Cryptocurrencies also can be used across borders and countries with ease.
To prevent cyberattacks, always train your staff — all employees, not just tech departments — on security measures. They should be kept updated on new types of attacks so they are on the lookout for common e-mail tactics, for example.
In addition, it is very important to always update the organization’s systems and perform regular backups of essential data.
Another critical step is collaborating with other organizations on security measures, especially those who have fallen prey to these cyberattacks. Information-sharing is key since technology is constantly improving, including methods of attacks.
Keeping abreast of the latest information on minimizing attacks goes a long way to help prevent them.
Manjeet Rege, Ph.D., is professor and chair of the University of St. Thomas’ graduate programs in software and director of the Center for Applied AI. He hosts the “All Things Data” podcast.