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Technology can be a great asset to companies of all sizes. However, it is not the solution to all problems, nor is it always the safest solution to put into place. As a matter of fact, sometimes it can cause problems that can deliver potentially fatal blows to a company.
Yes, we are talking about malicious viruses hidden in software solutions.
Cybercrime is a growing threat to the transportation industry. Hackers trying to gain access to financial data or viruses wiping out CRM data has become increasingly common in the last few years. One of the biggest threats that the logistics industry has encountered is that of ransomware.
Ransomware is one of the newest forms of cyber-crime that holds a company captive through malicious software. The virus is bundled in compromised software or later infected through the use of software exploits. Either way, this type of virus gains access to confidential financial information. This information helps hackers extort a company and possibly cripple its operations.
It is a nasty thing, to say the least.
Ransomware attacks a computer or network and spreads to all hardware devices connected on the same network. So, any laptops, desktops, tablets, and even company cellphones are all potential victims.
What makes ransomware attacks extremely dangerous are that they leverage the company against itself. With more standard viruses, they get in the system and do the damage they were programmed to inflict. However, companies can usually get all traces of a basic virus cleared up in a reasonable amount of time. This isn't always the case when it comes to ransomware.
Due to the fact that its initial goal is control and not destruction, it can often remain dormant in a computer network for quite some time without being noticed. And guess what it is doing while it is flying under the radar.
That's right, it's spreading and embedding itself deeper and deeper with every moment that it goes unchecked.
Once the virus has taken hold of the network and gained access to the most critical pieces of infrastructure, demands are then issued to the infected company. This usually happens via a pop-up message being distributed across the computers hooked up to the network or an email. The hackers (rather, hijackers) demand that the company makes a non-traceable payment to them in order for the attack to stop.
If this demand goes unfulfilled, the virus corrupts files and renders the system totally useless. When that happens, it can cost companies millions of dollars to rectify. If it is a smaller company that has been infected and unable to pay... sometimes they never recover.
With such a possible threat looming over your company, why take any risks?
There are many ways that ransomware attacks can get take a toll on your company. Fortunately, there are also a few ways to protect your company.
Educating yourself on the use of firewalls, antivirus solutions, and updating software and hardware regularly goes a long way in this fight. But it extends beyond simply educating yourself on these threats, it must be a team-wide effort. If an employee has access to a company device or access to cloud-based services, they need training on how to properly assess and deal with these threats as they happen.
Slowing down or fixing a virus is achieved by blocking the point of entry. This is where installing and monitoring firewalls comes in really handy. Additionally, ensuring that all open ports are password-protected and preferably each port is designated to only one or two specific processes.
Outdated software and hardware is another issue.
Unfortunately, this is also how most ransomware sneaks its way into a companies network. When software companies release security patches for their platform, it is usually for a pretty good reason. The reason being is that there are new threats identified and a patch for the software is created to combat the problem. Ignoring software updates and hardware upgrades is one of the worst things a company can do.
So, what are the most common ways that hackers get into the network?
Most likely you will find yourself vulnerable to an attack via an embedded email link specifically tailored to intrigue you. If it’s too good to be true or not official company business, the best practice is to not open it.
Once opened, it infects the device and begins to spread to other devices via the company's computer network. For this reason, separate Wi-Fi systems for company and personal/customer use is a good idea.
Boredom at work is the leading cause of internet browsing. Whether it be blogs, cheesy top-10 articles, and pop ups, are all likely suspects for an infection. Once that bored employee accesses a virus-ridden site on their lunch break, it can automatically download corrupt files onto the device. From there, all it needs is a connection to the company internet access and it can begin a take-over of the entire network within mere minutes.
The third most likely culprit is the email attachment. Generally, hackers make it look like a safe attachment from someone you trust, usually a boss or corporate executive. This is a clever trick because it preys on your trust and the fact that you are probably busy with other work so you are likely not paying full attention.
So, you see this email, recognize the name and you open it up. You download the attachment and suddenly you can’t access files, and you are now infected with a virus.
The first thing that any logistics company must realize is that the threat of ransomware attacks is indeed real. It isn't some small problem that is simply going to go away with a bit of time. This is a threat that is here to stay. So long as we utilize technology, this problem will continue to rear its ugly head. The best thing that shippers can do to fight it is to simply continue to educate themselves, their employees, and security measures into place.
Ready to secure your logistics network from ransomware attacks? Reach out to the experts here at Redwood Logistics today!