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What Recent Ransomware Attacks Tells Us About Cyber Security

A recent cyber security attack that hit national headlines serves as a clear reminder that organizations both large and small are all susceptible to debilitating ransomware attacks. In this instance not only was data stolen and ransomed, but the attack stopped services and exposed the sensitive data of the company’s customers who depended on the payroll and time-keeping software.

What’s the biggest takeaway from what we know about the attack? Dealing with cyber security isn’t easy; in fact, it’s incredibly complex. The reality is that cyber security infrastructure only needs one small exploitable weakness to leave you open to a variety of ransomware and cyber security attacks. This is just another example of modern cyber attacks that have the potential to cripple unprepared organization.

What can we do?

When an attack happens on this scale it’s important that every organization takes the time to reassess their data security. Analyzing each situation will help you identify any similar gaps that could potentially lead to your data and systems being compromised.

What we know.

Late in 2021 a major payroll provider was the target of a ransomware attack. The attack left that company’s customers without access to payroll processing and workforce management software and left many without access to their payroll and time-keeping data for several weeks. This hit especially hard with the Holidays and year end just around the corner, as many organizations had to unexpectantly pivot quickly to find a new method to pay their staff.

What can we learn?

Your cyber security is only as strong as your weakest link.

If there is one take away from the attacks like this – Cyber attacks can happen to anyone, even if you are already taking precautions. The fact of the matter is that no one is exempt, but there are measures you can take to lower your risk and impact. Whether they are successful or not is the real test of your preparations. Each potential security gap, no matter how small, can be the weakness that provides hackers with an opportunity to get past your defenses.

Employee education is your first line of defense.

The cause for most successful cyber attacks is just one seemingly simple mistake made by an individual. Clinking on the wrong email’s attachment, visiting a suspicious URL, or even leaving your computer unattended ‘for just a quick minute’ can all be the innocent event that leads to a successful attack. The first line of your defense is your workforce.
Invest in training your staff to identify threats and what actions they need to take to keep data secure. Start by creating strong protocols for password management and implementing double authentication across your critical systems.

Be prepared, be proactive.

“The best preparation for tomorrow is to do your best today” – H Jackson Brown Jr.

It can be tough staying ahead of the curve when it comes to technology and the increasing threat of cyber attacks. That’s why it is so important to be proactive in your preparations. Work with experts to develop a plan and modern security infrastructure to be continually assessed for its effectiveness.

A great example of a real-world, proactive cyber security strategy in effect is the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The Olympics committee knew the threat and resolved to not wait for an attack before reacting. They identified their weakness, looked at past experience and examples,  and then developed resources to combat potential attacks.

Cloud Computing & Hosting

When it comes to ransomware, cloud hosting options are one of the best ways to protect your data from cyber attacks. Hosting your software and using cloud services for document or data management means that your critical data is stored offsite and often split among several severs in several locations. It’s hard to hold data hostage when you can only access a small piece of the data and several copies and historical info exist in different places.


Whether you are using the cloud, on-site, or a secure data facility you need to make sure that you have a procedure to consistently and accurately back up all your data. Your backups would ideally have even more layers of security, very few secure access points, and double authentication passcodes. As mentioned above, it’s hard to hold data hostage if you have completed backups and historical data.

When you hear about large-scale and newsworthy attacks make sure to reflect and learn from the experience. Make it a top priority to assess your current security best practices to identify any potential weaknesses or similar vulnerabilities. Want to check right now how your organization stacks up to current cyber security standards?

Assess Your Cyber Security with this 10 Question Quiz!

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