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Ransomware and Company Closings: Could You be Next?

by Sally Rozumalski

 Ransomware is continuing to hit businesses, with more force and impact each year. Symantec, a cyber defense research company, found infections have steadily increased in scale and monetary effect. From organizations as big as PGA of America, and as small as a Colorado based printing company: Colorado Timberline, we’ve been exposed to ransomware that causes havoc and chaos for private and sensitive information that organizations so desperately must keep classified.


Malicious software and the infamous effects that accompany it, are starting to effect companies on a larger scale than a simple inconvenience. A 5-year-old Denver, Colorado printing company shut their doors indefinitely, and outright blames a ransomware attack for its closing almost overnight.


Colorado Timberline, sent an announcement to customers and suppliers, without warning saying it was immediately ceasing operations.


“We have recently been plagued by several IT events, unfortunately we were unable to overcome the most recent Ransomware attack and as a result this unfortunate and difficult decision was made,” the company said on its website. “We greatly appreciate the support and loyalty from each of you over the years.”


Timberline’s immediate closure meant none of their customers inquiries for an explanation were answered. They were left with no choice but to lock the company’s site, with its closure announcement printed out in English and Spanish on its doors. Nearly 100 workers were let go with little to no warning.


Colorado Timberline was even forced to auction off their remaining assets in phases of facility and support assets followed by all major production equipment and inventory.


According to security researchers, there has been a decline in ransomware compared to other threats including crypto mining. Yet the malicious software remains a very real risk: attacks are becoming fewer but more targeted. Colorado Timberline’s story is a sad one, but unfortunately it is all too common. Too often when an organization is hit, it’s either too late or the situation is not dealt with the utmost importance and caution.


So, how can you prepare to fight off ransomware before it’s too late?


No one wants to face the reality that Colorado Timberline encountered, but being prepared is essential. Two keys to proper prevention include: Incident response plans and employee education.


Too often employees aren’t thoroughly educating employees on risk and prevention. This certainly is half the battle, as they are the ones each day dealing with hands on data. This can be as simple as scam email warning notifications and implementing basic security tools to combat exploits and ransomware.


Employees must be trained on how to spot attacks. Period.


Not only does this aid in a smaller chance of becoming a victim but also means they are more likely to pick up on a hoax straight away. Employees can be your biggest risk or must trusted ally, but it all depends on if they are trained to know what to look for.


Having a plan of action when faced with a ransomware attack is crucial, often times companies underestimate the amount of time they may realistically need to get back up and running, leaving a vulnerable state for any would cyber criminal to steal precious company information.


While ransomware attacks are devastating and all encompassing, they are also preventable with the correct measures. Ensuring your employees are educated and experienced with a plan of action ready to go, will dramatically decrease the chances that a ransomware attack will cause total collapse of your company. While the outcome of Colorado Timberline is a sad one, we can use it as a learning experience. You never know when a hacker may strike, so remember: Prepare!

LACyber is a division of Lincoln Archives providing comprehensive Data Breach Defense Services. Lincoln Archives and LACyber are proud to be a part of Lincoln Family of Companies serving the Western New York Community since 1914.

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