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Apr 24, 2024

Ransomware: Not New But Suddenly Getting a Lot of Attention


The latest villain in cybercrime is ransomware. It seems like every day there are new reports of ever larger ransomware scams costing organizations millions. Here is the interesting thing: ransomware is by no means a new phenomenon. It has been around for decades. But it is suddenly getting attention thanks to a few high-profile attacks.

Hillstone Networks takes ransomware threats seriously. We understand that ransomware is just the latest iteration of a long-standing crime that has taken many forms over the last few centuries. One of our goals as a cybersecurity provider is to help our clients harden their networks against ransomware attacks.

More Than 30 Years Old

Ransomware is older than the public internet itself. It was allegedly born more than 30 years ago, the brainchild of an evolutionary biologist who mailed tens of thousands of floppy discs to unsuspecting users who thought they were getting scientific data. When they inserted the discs and tried to access them, their computers locked up. A message demanding ransom appeared and that was that.

The marine biologist in question, a man named Joseph Popp, is widely credited for inventing ransomware. But his crime was merely a digital take on another crime as old as humanity itself: kidnapping wealthy people and holding them for ransom. Same crime, different avenue.

Every Industry Is Vulnerable

The origins of ransomware aside, companies in every industry are vulnerable to it. Hackers know no boundaries in terms of who they will go after. Any and all data becomes a valuable commodity in a ransomware attack. A network or cloud environment left without sufficient ransomware protection becomes a viable target.

At the current time, healthcare seems to be one of the most attractive industries to ransomware hackers. Large healthcare organizations, like hospital systems, store unimaginable amounts of data covering everything from patients to payments to health histories. It is data that no one wants to be released into the wild. Therefore, hackers are reasonably confident in their ability to extort large sums of money if they can just compromise a healthcare organization’s systems.

Technology and Human Solutions

Whether your organization is active in healthcare or some other industry, the threat of ransomware is both real and ongoing. Those of us here at Hillstone Networks believe that fighting ransomware attacks cannot be laid at the feet of a single solution. Success requires a multi-pronged effort that includes both technology and human solutions.

On the technology side of things, the focus should be on strategies like micro-segmentation and zero trust network access (ZTNA). Organizations should constantly ensure that their firewall solutions are up to the challenge. Policies covering everything from network access to application protection should be continually reviewed and updated as needed.

On the human side of things, organizations and their security teams need to do a better job at preparing users to identify and prevent social engineering incursions. Organizations need to come to terms with the fact that humans are the weakest link in the cybersecurity chain. They are big targets for hackers because they are also easy targets.

You Can Never Be Too Prepared

Ransomware is not new. It is just a digital take on an ancient crime. Now that it’s suddenly getting a lot of attention, organizations have plenty of opportunities to prepare for future ransomware attacks. Make no mistake; the attacks will continue coming until they no longer produce enough of a return to make them worthwhile.

Hillstone Networks takes the position that an organization can never be too prepared. With that in mind, let us get working on your preparations.