School Bus

Exploit: Ransomware

New Haven Public Schools: Public school district serving students in New Haven, Connecticut

Risk to Small Business: Severe: A network vulnerability allowed hackers to install ransomware on the district’s servers, prohibiting access to many of their critical digital assets. Fortunately, New Haven Public Schools maintained comprehensive backups, allowing them to restore functionality without paying the ransom. Many attacks in this realm are self-initiated, with an employee accidentally clicking into a phishing email that installs malware into a system. However, in this case, the district insists that technical vulnerabilities were the culprit.

Customers Impacted: Unknown

How it Could Affect Your Business: A holistic ransomware response plan is a mission-critical component of any organization. This plan, which must include everything from attaining the right insurance policy to determining a philosophical position on paying ransom demands, can mitigate the consequences of an attack. In this case, New Haven Public Schools had the backups in place to avoid paying a ransom and to quickly restore operations. Of course, securing IT infrastructure is a complicated process, and partnering with third-party experts can help spot vulnerabilities before the lead to a data breach.

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In Other News: Ransomware Gets a New Lease on Life 

Ransomware attacks have made a precipitous return to public life, making them one of the most potent threats in today’s digital landscape. 

Once targeting individual computer systems, ransomware fell out of favor with cybercriminals as it failed to net significant returns. That changed when cybercriminals began targeting local governments and small and medium-sized businesses where they can earn thousands of dollars from the relatively inexpensive attack method. 

Many attribute this shift in approach to the WannaCry ransomware virus, which captured national headlines and set a new direction for future cybercriminals.

As municipalities and organizations grapple with the best response plan, it’s clear that bad actors will continue to wreak havoc with new iterations of ransomware. A strong defense is the most affordable and advantageous approach to these attacks and getting expert eyes on your cybersecurity landscape can ensure that your vulnerabilities are accounted for.

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