FBI Warns Attacks are Increasing

The FBI announced that it’s seen a dramatic rise in ransomware. These attacks entice users to open an email attachment or click on a link that downloads malware that “locks-up” or encrypts data on a computer, shared files or files on a server that’s accessible from the computer. The attacker then demands payment to unlock the data or provide the decryption key. These infections can be devastating and recovery can be a difficult and timely process.

The FBI recommends not paying the ransom and that you contact them if you are the victim of such an attack. It’s important to realize that if you do pay the ransom there’s a chance you won’t get your files back regardless. But more importantly, paying the ransom may cause you to be targeted again in the future simply because you’ve shown a willingness to pay.

Ransomware events not only pose a security threat, but they also take a significant investment of time to resolve, they create downtime (by loss of access to data) and they cause reputational risk costing the bank far more than the ransom demanded. A better approach is to have systems and processes in place to reduce the threat of such attacks. Here are a few risk management tips:

•Be aggressive with your spam filtering – this reduces the threat that malware can come in as an attachment via email.
• Use caution whitelisting individual email addresses – even a trusted sender can become infected and transmit a virus to you.
•Always block high risk attachments (even from whitelisted addresses) – Certain files have a high propensity for malware and some cannot be scanned by anti-virus software.
•Educate employees – Have regular employee training to keep information security at top of the mind awareness.
•Obtain expert assistance – Consider utilizing a vendor that has specialized tools and software that can help you prevent these attacks and recover from them in the event they do occur.

Many times it’s hard to see the security benefits of investing now to prevent a future incident; however, victims of a ransomware attack will agree that the best defense is to have a solution in place before an event occurs.

BankOnIT provides a layered security solution that addresses threats, such as ransomware, in addition to many other cybersecurity threats that threaten banks. For more information on how your bank can reduce IT risks such as a ransomware attack while spending less time managing IT, contact BankOnIT at 800-498-8877, or solutions@bankonitusa.com.