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RANSOMWARE: A global problem, with a local solution

by Alex Schmidt | Jul 14, 2021
RANSOMWARE: A global problem, with a local solution

By Juancarlos Martinez
Senior Vice President and Chief Information Security Officer – Columbia Bank

In just the last few months, the world has witnessed digital attacks which targeted and greatly disrupted:

All are quite different entities yet share in common the fact that ransomware attacks from criminal hackers penetrated their digital security and caused massive interference and hardship.

Ransomware, broadly speaking, is the process of sending encrypted malware to an unsuspecting network in order to lock down or greatly interrupt operations. Once the intrusion is set, the victim is forced to pay a ransom – usually in untraceable cryptocurrency – to unlock the malware.

The examples I provided above are just some of the high-profile cases we’ve all read about. According to the FBI, thousands of smaller ransomware attacks occur daily to large and even small businesses.

For those of us who live IT and security, ransomware attacks are becoming one of our biggest concerns and there is wide consensus among professionals that stopping these attacks before they start is the only sure way to protect a business - no matter what size.

Here at Columbia Bank, we take this growing threat very seriously. Without going into too much detail of our security strategy, I will say that we have invested heavily in both software security and human security. We deploy the latest technology to harden our digital services and employ a team of experts who continuously evaluate and enhance our security profile.

Yet the main purpose of this post is not to discuss our security strategy, but rather to urge all businesses to make IT security a top priority. Just as you make customer service and fulfillment a key aspect of your operation, your network deserves the same attention – if not more.

As any law enforcement professional will say, criminals rarely resemble the TV or movie caricatures who engage in elaborate and intricate schemes to commit crimes. The vast majority are looking for the most opportunistic score. Just as most car thieves simply seek out unlocked doors, ransomware perpetrators look for the easiest and least secure entities to target.

In the digital age, it is a key responsibility of every business leader to ensure that his or her business is not an attractive target to hackers. As we’ve seen in these national and international cases recently, no business is 100 percent safe – but the goal is to implement enough security and protection to deter criminals from targeting your business.

Included in this article are two key resources that any business can read to get a better understanding of ways to protect against ransomware. The first is a White House Memo, which details additional steps the federal government is taking to combat this growing threat. The second is a link to the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency, which provides guidance and resources to protect against ransomware.

Right now, somewhere in the world, criminals are searching for their next ransomware target. Your job, and the job of everyone at your organization, is to ensure these hackers move past your business.



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