Crypto Crisis: What to do When Someone Holds Your Data Hostage

It's every business owner’s nightmare: your company's secure information, its lifeline, becomes hacked or compromised. The repercussions are severe: lost data, compromised customer records, a tarnished reputation, and financial loss from possible lawsuits and 'ransom' your information may be held hostage for. But don't panic just yet.

IT Resources in Tampa, Florida, is here to guide you on how best to prepare for such a situation, enabling you to swiftly and effectively manage a security breach. With us, your small- to mid-size company is not defenseless. We suggest:  

  • Engage Proactive Measures: Stay ahead of the game. Update your security systems regularly and educate your employees on good online practices.
  • Embrace Transparency: If a breach does happen, let your clients know as soon as possible and assure them of the steps taken to rectify it.
  • Swift Action: Time is often the enemy. Remember, the faster you respond to these breaches, the lesser the damage typically is. We share some steps to take immediately following an attack below.
  • Work with an IT Specialist: If you're going through a data breach now, we can turn the crisis around and get to work solving the problem and restoring your data as quickly as possible.  

From the onset, it is important to understand that your information being held for ransom isn't the end of the world. Like any other business challenge, with the right team, tools, and approach, this too can be managed effectively. The key is to stay prepared, stay proactive, and, most importantly, stay informed.  

In 2020, the average cost of a ransomware attack was $133,000.

How Can Someone Hack into My Company’s Data?

It's a sobering fact that security compromises can happen from a variety of sources. It could be through your website, application, CRM, or e-mail/text scams that provide the access these cybercriminals need to hold your data for money. Attackers can exploit vulnerabilities in your software, access unprotected data, and push their way in to cause financial and reputational damage to your brand.

One of their weapons of choice? SQL injection attacks. These exploit vulnerabilities in the database layer of a website or an application using Structured Query Language (SQL) to insert malignant code. This allows offenders to access your database, modify or delete essential data, and potentially control your entire network!  

Another ticking time bomb is the man-in the-middle (MitM) attack. This hacking method intercepts the flow of information and harvests important data, often through exploiting unsecured public Wi-Fi networks. The attacker can stealthily manipulate communication between two parties, breach security protocols, and gain unauthorized access to the entire system.  

Lastly, one of the most prevalent forms of cyber theft is through Phishing. It's a deceptive art that hackers employ to collect sensitive information through fraudulent emails or websites. Posing as legitimate, trusted entities, they coax unsuspecting users into revealing personal data or login credentials. Then once in offer to sell your own information back to you.  

Phishing attacks account for more than 80% of reported security incidents

Remember — even after a breach gets detected and repaired by an IT expert, your troubles may not be over. Especially, if you don't go deep enough into your records to see if the attacker may have already secured other routes into your system, continuing to steal your data. Ensuring comprehensive safety calls for continuous vigilance, routine IT checks, and robust cybersecurity measures.

How long can they hold my company data for ransom?

Cybercriminals are known for their persistence, often referred to as Advanced Persistent Threats (ATPs), and they do not give up easily. They just keep coming. Cybercriminals use ransomware to hold devices, information, or systems, hostage until a ransom is paid, which is usually a secure, untraceable payment. It could be days, weeks, or even months before you get your breached data back. Not downtime that most business owners want.  

The situation can also lead to extensive damage to businesses and reputations if not dealt with correctly. When this happens, it slows down operations and imposes significant costs in energy and overall productivity. For small to mid-sized businesses in particular, whose resources are limited and whose business operations aren't as solid, the negative impacts of a cryptojacking attack can be particularly devastating.  

A breach in security can shatter the trust you've spent years building with clients or customers. In some cases, the monetary loss due to reparations or lost business may never be fully recovered. You must be proactive and have a comprehensive IT strategy to prevent and combat cybersecurity issues.  

Don't let cybercriminals access your sensitive business data. You can protect your business from threatening cryptojacking attacks. Be prepared with IT Resources.

What should a company do immediately after an IT data breach?

After an IT data breach, prompt and strategic steps are crucial. First, isolate affected systems to stop malware spread and protect data, then have an IT team:

  • Identify the breach's cause
  • Understand the extent of data compromised

This process aids in refining response plans and preventing future breaches. Notify relevant authorities (law enforcement, regulators, legal counsel) to meet legal obligations. Also, transparent communication with stakeholders is essential to mitigate reputational damage, clearly outlining resolution steps and future security enhancements.

Finally, review and tighten security policies by:

  • Ensuring restricted data access
  • Auditing for unauthorized access
  • Limiting privileges to reduce internal risks

This streamlined approach helps in effectively managing data breaches and bolstering defenses.

70% of organizations say that cybersecurity risk increased significantly due to remote work

Inspecting your company's approach towards cybersecurity, such as the use of password managers and multi-factor authentication (MFA), will help highlight any potential shortcomings. Frequent updates of security software, auditing unused accounts, and outsourcing key IT systems could also be beneficial.  

Leverage all these as learning experiences to strengthen your security measures! Then, we suggest having regular cybersecurity training sessions for your team, so everyone knows the best practices. Taking a proactive approach is the responsibility of everyone in your company.  

Read More > Ransomware Dangers for Remote Workers

Safety from Scammers Starts with an IT Strategy

Cybercriminals can insert malicious codes, gaining access to, and even influence over, your databases. Or employ phishing techniques and man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks, which interrupt data flow to steal vital information - and then hold it ransom until you pay to get your data back. The scary reality is that even after a breach has been detected and repaired, there's a chance that those same cyber attackers have secured other routes into your system to continuously steal data. That, often, requires expert IT help.  

We believe it's all about being prepared.  By embracing comprehensive IT solutions, focusing on continuous updates, fostering a security-centered culture, and empowering employees with essential cybersecurity skills, you can reduce your company's IT vulnerabilities.  

Here, protection is a priority. Call the specialists at IT Resources today.


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