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What we learned from the Colonial Pipeline Ransomware Cyberattack

One of the world’s largest providers of critical national infrastructure, Colonial Pipeline, was successfully targeted with a ransomware attack on May 7th. The hackers stole 100 GB of sensitive corporate data, threatening to only release when a full ransom was paid. In response, the Colonial Pipeline shut down some of its operations to pre-emptively prevent the malware from spreading, causing decreased access to fuel in some parts of the United States.

Colonial Pipeline carries gasoline and other fuel from Texas to the Northeast, supplying 45% of the East Coast’s fuel and other petroleum products on pipelines across the country. Colonial Pipeline operates in 14 states and services seven airports. Its system is the biggest in the US, covering more than 5,500 miles.

This ransomware cyberattack is one of the largest attacks on critical national infrastructure in history. In addition to stealing data, hackers took control over a system that operates the largest fuel pipeline in the U.S and demanded a ransom to release it. According to news reports, the hackers were paid nearly $5 million in order to release control of the infrastructure.

Cybersecurity experts warn that ransomware attacks are becoming more frequent with increasingly more sophisticated methods. Organizations should be aware of these types of attacks to protect their infrastructure and data from any potential disaster that may occur.

The FBI has blamed the hacking group, Darkside, for attacking and causing this massive shutdown. During the attack, IT teams were able to identify which systems had been breached and temporarily shut them down, however, this caused delays and affected other IT systems as well.

Why should businesses be concerned about a ransomware attack?

Phishing attacks are increasing. The reality is that ransomware is a serious concern for all businesses. It shouldn’t come as a surprise; after all, the data you rely on to operate your business is highly valuable to attackers looking to steal it, sell it, ransom it, or leak it. Adding fuel to the fire, businesses often lack the resources necessary to put strong cybersecurity measures into place.

How to safeguard your business against ransomware cyberattacks?

Many businesses are afraid of ransomware attacks and for good reason. The recent attack on one of our country’s major resources proves the potential severity. Here are some ways you can protect your business from these types of cyberattacks:

  • Back up your data. Businesses can maintain continuity by backing up important data files.
  • Update and patch systems and software. Regularly patching, updating, and maintaining your IT network helps prevent known cybersecurity vulnerabilities from being exploited by attackers.
  • Protect systems that connect to the internet. VPN provides secure remote connectivity for employees, protecting your data from future cyberattacks like this one.
  • Develop a culture of cybersecurity. Train your employees to watch for and understand the tricks attackers use, spot potential phishing links, and flag requests for personal information or credentials. Utilizing password policies, password managers, and multifactor authentication can help protect your company data from future cyberattacks.
  • Monitor your network for threats. Implement a security solution for ransomware activity to better protect your business. Stay ahead of ransomware demands with monitoring tools that provide damage prevention and guidance about preventing attacks from happening in the first place.

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