Hackers Take to Holding Your Data for Ransom

Kidnap and ransom isn’t just about people any longer. Hackers have taken the practice to another level by holding data and files hostage until a ransom is paid. Recently the Midlothian, Illinois police department was attacked using a computer virus Cryptoware that when opened by an unsuspecting recipient, disabled the computer system. A ransom message appeared requesting $500 for return of the data and use of the computer. The police department agreed and paid a total of $606 that included bank fees and surcharges.

In this case, the hacker demanded payment in bitcoin currency, a form of exchange used on the Internet sometimes for illegal activities. While the hacker was only able to deactivate one computer in the police department, this crime was significant as it shows a growing trend of demanding payment for the return of data files. It also signifies to local government facilities and small to mid-sized businesses that hackers are not only interested in attacking multinational corporations.

The mass media focus on Fortune 500 data breaches including health organizations, entertainment conglomerates and retailers may have created a false assumption by small to mid-sized business owners and local government agencies that a data breach could never happen to them. Obviously this is incorrect. In the past year, a Tennessee sheriff’s office and the city of Detroit fell victim to hackers who demanded payment for the return of data files. The sheriff’s office in Tennessee agreed to pay the ransom which came to a total of $572 while Detroit refused to pay the several hundred thousand dollar ransom stating the information hacked was not essential to their daily operations.

Just about every business relies on a network, and accessing data within that network. If a hacker through the use of ransomware denies access to it, the business may be significantly impacted. This could be particularly painful for a seasonal business if the attack is ill-timed. Businesses will do anything to get up and running as quickly as possible, and hackers know that.

Fortunately the HUB International Risks Services team is prepared to address these issues with you and provide protective measures for your business to stop hackers from data theft and ransom. Cyber insurance often covers cyber extortion and is something to be considered in this day and age of ever increasing data breaches.

Contact a HUB Risk expert today to conduct a risk assessment and develop a customized plan.