Putting Brakes On Cybersecurity Threats: Practical Strategies To Mitigate Cybersecurity Risk – Technology | #malware | #ransomware

United States:

Putting Brakes On Cybersecurity Threats: Practical Strategies To Mitigate Cybersecurity Risk

To print this article, all you need is to be registered or login on Mondaq.com.

What would you do if you woke up tomorrow and your company’s
IT systems were completely locked down? What if you could not use
phones, check emails, or receive orders? What if you could not
operate machinery or pay payroll? What if the sensitive, personal,
and proprietary information your company stores was suddenly
unavailable and potentially for sale on the black market? What loss
would your company sustain each hour it was offline? What would you
do if your company was the subject of a regulatory investigation?
What would you do if the media exposed that your company was shut
down due to a cyber attack? What would you tell the board or your
shareholders? Unfortunately, this is the reality many companies
suddenly face today when they become the victim of a ransomware

In addition to being the victim of an attack by a threat actor,
these companies may become the target of lawsuits alleging a
variety of harms, including failure to deliver on contractual
promises, exposure of sensitive information, and/or violation of
various laws due to the company’s allegedly negligent
cybersecurity practices. Many of these lawsuits result in large
settlements for plaintiffs, as reasonable cybersecurity practices
are now the standard of care expected of all businesses and many
are not adequately prepared. The practical strategies in this
article can help ensure your business is on the path to preparing
for and safeguarding against a ransomware attack and other
cybersecurity risks.

Ransomware: A Substantial Threat to the Automotive Supply

Ransomware attacks frequently made headlines in 2021 and had a
substantial impact on many U.S. companies. In the first six months
of last year alone, ransomware attacks on U.S. companies were up
148% from 20201. These attacks were responsible for
impacting the availability of gasoline up and down the East Coast,
disrupting multiple meatpacking plants, and as the year came to a
close, causing a cream cheese shortage (which frustrated many
holiday bakers). While there are numerous cybersecurity threats
affecting companies, such as phishing attacks and software
vulnerabilities, these threats are now being utilized as a vector
to infiltrate company systems and launch ransomware attacks.

The automotive supply chain is a prime target for ransomware
attacks. The cyber criminals that perpetrate these attacks (threat
actors) are smart, organized, and creative. They frequently
research their victims and target the companies they believe will
be most likely and able to pay a ransom. Increasingly, they are
targeting industries and companies that they believe will be
substantially affected by downtime. The historically just-in-time
nature of many parts of the automotive supply chain makes it a
prime target for these attacks, as threat actors know such
companies cannot afford to be offline for several days or weeks and
are more likely to pay a ransom to get back up and running as
quickly as possible.

The U.S. Federal Government and many other governments are
increasing efforts to combat ransomware, including issuing
statements and guidance for the public and private sectors.
Unfortunately, due to rapidly evolving technologies, changing
global payment systems, and countries that harbor cyber criminals,
this pervasive threat is extremely difficult to eradicate. This
means it is vitally important for all companies in the automotive
supply chain to understand how a ransomware attack could impact
their operations, take steps to minimize the chances of an attack
occurring, and make changes to minimize the potential damage should
an attack occur.

Costs of a Ransomware Attack

Ransomware attacks can be devastating. Many companies in the
automotive supply chain cannot operate without computers —
they control key machinery, keep track of production and orders,
and operate safety systems, such as clean air systems, necessary
for production. Yet in a matter of minutes ransomware can lock down
computer systems, making them inoperable and rendering important
information inaccessible. Further, confidential information may be
stolen and, in some cases, published online or sold on digital
black markets. Companies are then faced with a tough decision: pay
a ransom to unlock their computer systems and prevent confidential
information from being leaked or try to erase and restore systems
from backups.

The obvious impacts of a ransomware attack are the costs and
risks associated with production downtime and the cost of a ransom
payment. Companies may be wholly or partially unable to operate
while systems are locked down by ransomware. Ransom amounts
typically range from several hundreds of thousands to millions of
dollars, and even after payment it can take days to fully restore
computer systems. In addition to these costs and risks, there are
many less-obvious costs:

  • Restoring Computer Systems. Restoring
    computer systems can be costly. Even if the ransom is paid, trained
    professionals may need to be hired in order to properly use the
    specialized software provided by the attackers to restore systems
    to their pre-attack working state. In addition, companies that
    suffer a ransomware attack typically hire a computer forensics
    vendor to determine exactly how their systems were infiltrated and
    what actions the attackers took while inside, so they can be
    remediated to prevent additional attacks in the future. (If you
    leave the back door open, you will likely be attacked again!)

  • Legal Compliance. Depending on the
    systems and information impacted by ransomware, a company may be
    required to comply with various state data breach notification
    requirements, department of defense notification requirements, and
    other applicable laws. In addition, before paying or making a
    promise to pay a ransom, companies must conduct diligence to ensure
    payment is not prohibited by U.S. sanctions. The cost of legal
    compliance is highly fact-specific and can range from a few
    thousand dollars to hundreds of thousands, depending on the
    implicated laws and requirements.

  • Subsequent Litigation. If certain
    personal information, such as certain information contained in a
    typical employee human resources file, is exfiltrated during a
    ransomware attack, there may be lawsuits filed against the company.
    Resolving such suits can be costly.

  • Contractual Violations. Production delays
    due to a ransomware attack frequently result in violation of
    contractual requirements as companies are unable to meet
    obligations to their customers. Depending on the terms agreed upon,
    a company may be liable to its customers for the customer’s
    lost profits due to the delays, a multiple of the cost of the
    product, or the cost for customers to temporarily find a new
    supplier if one is available. There may be additional liability if
    the unavailability of inputs or component parts causes a ripple
    effect resulting in delays downstream.

  • Reputation Impact. Delays in production
    can make a supplier appear unreliable, potentially resulting in
    customer distrust and loss of future business. In addition, after
    infecting a company with ransomware, threat actors may contact the
    company’s customers or business partners to inform them of the
    ransomware attack in an effort to increase pressure and extort a
    larger ransom payment, resulting in additional reputational

Practical Cybersecurity Strategies to Mitigate Ransomware and
Other Cyber Risks

Ransomware is one of several common cybersecurity risks
companies face today. Risks such as theft of intellectual property,
insider threats, and business email compromises — in which a
threat actor gains access to company email account(s) and uses that
access to perform malicious actions such as misdirecting funds,
changing order terms or recipients, or stealing sensitive
information — are increasingly common. By employing these
practical cybersecurity strategies, companies can mitigate risks
associated with ransomware as well as many other types of
cybersecurity risks.

  1. Keep computers and hardware patched and up to
     Attackers frequently use vulnerabilities in
    software to infiltrate company computer systems and launch
    ransomware attacks. Many of these attacks are avoidable by
    regularly installing updates and patches that fix security flaws.
    It is important to keep all network and internet-connected devices
    up to date, including computers, smart phones, tablets, routers,
    firewalls, and “smart” technology, including sensors,
    lightbulbs, and hubs. In addition, industry standard antivirus
    software should be used on all computers and kept up to date.

  2. Plan ahead. Your company should have an
    up-to-date incident response plan covering all types of
    cybersecurity incidents. Due to the large uptick in ransomware,
    many companies also find it helpful to have a ransomware-specific
    policy in place. These documents help to ensure an orderly and
    efficient response to a cybersecurity incident, which can
    substantially reduce legal risk and other costs. Legal counsel can
    assist with drafting or revising these plans and policies to ensure
    they meet current industry standards and regulatory guidance.

  3. Do not allow personal devices to connect to company
    If your company provides internet access
    to employees or customers, create an isolated guest WiFi network
    for them to use. Do not allow them to connect to the same network
    used by company computer systems.

  4. Regularly train employees on cybersecurity
     Ensure training covers topics such as
    ransomware, phishing, spear phishing, social engineering, and
    forged emails. Employees are frequently the “weakest
    link” in company security, and untrained employees are more
    likely to fall for targeted attacks.

  5. Practice responding to an incident. One
    of the best ways to improve your company’s response readiness
    is to regularly practice responding to an incident. Tabletop, or
    mock, incident response exercises help a company to identify
    weaknesses in its response plans and prepare incident response team
    members ahead of a ransomware attack or other cybersecurity
    incident. This way, if the company is affected by a ransomware
    attack, critical mistakes can be avoided and incident response team
    members will be prepared for their duties despite the chaos.
    Experienced cybersecurity counsel can assist with designing and
    conducting tabletop incident response exercises.

  6. Require all employees to use multifactor
    Employees should be required to use
    multifactor authentication on all accounts provided by the company,
    including computer, email, and VPN accounts.

  7. Limit employee access. Each employee
    computer account should be configured with the minimum amount of
    access required. Do not give employees “administrator”
    access unless they are trained IT professionals who require such
    access. Do not allow general employee accounts to install
    unapproved software or make changes to system settings. Do not
    allow employee accounts general access to file shares or servers
    unless such access is needed. Restrict file share access to
    specific folders where possible. Less access means more difficulty
    for an attacker if they obtain and try to use an employee’s
    login credentials.

  8. Allow remote login only for employees that need
     Ensure only specific employees with a need for
    remote access can log into VPN or remote desktop services.

  9. Regularly backup systems and store backups
     Backups should be kept on a different
    system (on a different network or offline), or stored with a secure
    cloud backup provider, to prevent ransomware or other malicious
    code from impacting the availability of backups.

  10. Segment your network. Consider moving
    critical systems to a separate network from the general network
    used for email, order processing, etc. This helps to prevent
    ransomware and other malicious code from spreading to critical
    systems and may help avoid a total business shutdown in the event
    of a ransomware attack.

  11. Use email filtering software. Software
    that filters out malicious links and phishing attacks is an
    excellent first line of defense and can make it more difficult for
    attackers to reach employees and infiltrate systems.

  12. Ensure IT has an adequate and properly utilized
     Upgrading software and hardware can be
    costly, but generally it is substantially cheaper than a ransomware
    attack. Ensure your company’s IT team has an adequate budget
    for cybersecurity and that they proactively utilize it to improve
    your company’s cybersecurity defenses. Ask them if your
    organization follows the IT guidance in this section and how they
    have prepared for a ransomware attack or other cybersecurity


1. 2021 SonicWall Cyber Threat Report, Mid-Year

The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.

POPULAR ARTICLES ON: Technology from United States

Ukraine Crisis Increases Supply Chain Cyber Risk

Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP

The current geopolitical climate and escalating crisis in Ukraine is amplifying concerns about the increased cyber threat to global supply chains that are already strained by the COVID-19 pandemic.

DeFi World Has A New Star Called DAO

Foley & Lardner

As financial markets wrap up the year 2021 and launch into 2022 at warp speed, the “DeFi” world has a new star called the “DAO”.

Original Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

− 1 = one