The hack that took down the largest fuel pipeline in the U.S. and led to shortages across the East Coast was the result of a single compromised password.
In May of 2021, Colonial Pipeline suffered a ransomware cyber-attack that impacted computerized equipment managing the pipeline. The company halted all pipeline operations to contain the attack and handed over $4.4 million in bitcoin to the hacker group, who provided Colonial with an IT tool to restore their systems.
This story is a lesson to all: it is crucial to be aware of the different cyber-attacks that may target your organization as well the ways you need to protect your business.
What is Ransomware?
Ransomware involves a hacker locking devices so data and programs cannot be accessed. Companies are forced to pay the ransom to obtain a key to unlock the hijacked systems. Ransomware is most commonly spread through spam messages, phishing emails, or infected websites. In the last few years, ransomware gangs have been shifting to terrorist-like activity, targeting schools and hospital systems rather than individuals. The Colonial Pipeline attack struck a blow to critical infrastructure, disrupting the gasoline supply chain and causing several gas stations to shut down completely.
What is Malware?
Malware is a malicious form of software designed to attack a computer system and inset computer infections, such as trojans or viruses. Viruses corrupt your files, hinder your device's performance, and breach its security, stealing important data. Malware is transmitted via USB, downloaded software, and infected websites.
How Do Cyber Attacks Harm Your Business?
1. Damage Brand Reputation
Following the Colonial Pipeline attack, the company’s name became synonymous with the term ransomware. According to Forbes Insights, 46% of organizations suffered damage to their reputations and brand value as a result of cybersecurity breaches.
When critical customer information is stolen, it can be used for identity theft and other kinds of fraud. Your brand reputation will suffer, and you’ll lose customer trust when data breaches become public knowledge. Existing customers may stop using your services, and potential investors will avoid your brand.
Downtime refers to a major business interruption that results in slowed or halted productivity. Recovery from cyber attacks can take weeks and even months as companies repair networks, devices, and restore backup data. Some data is never fully recovered, and often the downtime is more costly than the ransom payment itself.
3. Financial Impact
Ransomware payments averaged $570,000 in 2021. This figure does not include offer expenses businesses may also face, including legal fees, forensic and IT fees, penalties for not following data security and privacy regulations, and the cost of improving their cyber security to prevent future attacks.
4. Sensitive Data Breaches
Entara keeps your organization safe from cyber threats. From security awareness training to backup services to incident response, we have in-house experts ready to integrate security solutions into your stack to protect your system. Unforunately, ransomware and cyber attacks are an inevitability in today's world, but our experience doing incident response work informs our security recommendations. We can help you recover faster in the event of a breach, reduce interruptions to your business continuity, and create resilience to prevent future attacks.