Cyber Risks and Liabilities

Organizations of all sizes and sectors are facing increased cybersecurity risks. Specifically, ransomware attacks—which leverage malware to compromise a victim’s data and demand them to make a large payment to recover it—have quickly become a rising threat across industry lines. In fact, recent research found that these types of attacks have surged by 150% in the past year alone, with the average amount paid by victims jumping by over 300%. Such attacks have also become more sophisticated over the years as cybercriminals have developed a wide range of different ransomware-use techniques. 

In light of these advancing cyber concerns, it’s important for board members to be actively involved in developing and promoting effective workplace cybersecurity measures—especially as it pertains to ransomware attacks. By involving senior leadership in such initiatives, organizations can foster a culture of cybersecurity awareness and bolster their preparedness against cyber threats. Here are five key questions that board members should discuss to help their organizations stay resilient against ransomware attacks.

  1. How can our organization better detect ransomware threats?

deep fakesBefore a ransomware attack can occur, a cybercriminal has to gain access to their target’s network, systems or data. Once a cybercriminal gains this access, an extended length of time—also known as “dwell time”—typically passes before the ransomware is deployed and the attack actually begins. 

With this in mind, organizations that are able to detect potential ransomware threats during dwell time rather than at the onset of an attack can stop such incidents before they even start. The following measures can help board members ensure the earliest possible detection of ransomware concerns within their organizations:

  • Keep updated records of all workplace technology to understand where ransomware threats could arise.
  • Equip all workplace technology with antivirus and malware detection software. Update this software regularly.
  • Have critical technology, systems and data consistently monitored for suspicious activity. Make sure the employees in charge of these monitoring procedures are properly trained to do so.
  • Establish thresholds for when employees should notify senior leadership of ransomware threats. 
  • Provide all employees with clear ransomware reporting protocols.
  1. What can our organization do to minimize the damages in the event of a ransomware attack?

When ransomware attacks occur, it’s vital for impacted organizations to do everything they can to limit the damages. In particular, board members should prioritize these procedures:

  • Keep data encrypted. This practice will make it significantly harder for cybercriminals to compromise data during a ransomware attack.
  • Restrict employee access to workplace technology, systems and data. Only allow access on an as-needed basis. 
  • Require employees to use proper credentials and multifactor authentication when accessing workplace technology, systems and data.