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Lessons Your Business Can Learn from Colonial Pipeline Cyberattack

On May 7, 2021, a ransomware attack happened to one of the biggest businesses in the United States, the Colonial Pipeline. The cyberattack created a crisis for the country, with the affected company shutting down its operations over the weekend. This led to a shortage of gasoline across 16 states. The attack also resulted in a hike in fuel prices, with a gallon selling at above $3. The hackers responsible for this crisis now express remorse for disrupting society, but the damage they caused is real. The impact may continue to echo for a while, although operations have resumed in the company.

The attack is an alarming reminder that businesses, both large and small, are cybercrime targets across the country. Statistics show that approximately $2,900 is lost every minute to cybercrime. Top companies pay $25 due to cybersecurity breaches per minute. With such glaring figures, your business cannot afford to be casual about cybersecurity issues. Here are the lessons you can learn and the steps you can take towards improving the security of your systems.

Cybersecurity is not an IT vs. OT Issue

What happened at Colonial Pipeline was a ransomware infection of the company’s computers that control business operations. It was not an attack on the operational technology (OT). Had the attack been on the OT, the technologies that control physical processes would have created a red alert about the intent of the hackers.

In this case, the criminal group behind the DarkSide ransomware service regrets the disruption their action causes. It has instituted an operational change to prevent significant consequences on society. This is in sharp contrast to what other cyberattack groups like Sandworm would do. The hacking affected OT environments in an attempt to shut down the grid in Ukraine.

The attack serves to show that your business operations are prone to attack from both sides of the system. You must work critically on ensuring both IT and OT work together to protect the entire system. Billing and pricing systems are as critical as the data needed to operate them and as crucial as the SCADA network used in the operation of pumps and valves. You should not overlook visibility and protection across the IT-OT systems if you want to protect business operations.

Legislation and Compliance Are Crucial in Raising the Cybersecurity Bar

Compliance with regulatory standards and requirements is not always a seamless affair for many businesses. However, it plays a role in improving the fundamental areas of cybersecurity, particularly in the energy industry. Regulations are essential as they define what your business can and cannot do. They ensure all companies play by the same security rules to protect themselves and the citizens they serve. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), for example, protects individuals by outlining their rights. It also regulates how businesses should handle confidential information.

IT compliance enables organizations to demonstrate the measures they have put in place to make their cybersecurity systems meet specific security standards and regulations. Cybercrime, alongside human error, can put your business at legal risks when data breaches involve confidential data. Companies also face the risk of downtime after an attack, which can stop production and affect productivity.

When your company is IT compliant, you can avoid fines and penalties by ensuring you keep consumer information protected. Compliance helps you create systems that protect data and block costly data breaches. Remember that your organizational reputation is at stake when you are not IT compliant.

Both Large and Small Businesses Are Targets of Attack

The temporal shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline generated a lot of media responsiveness. This could easily create the false idea that only large or geopolitical organizations are at risk of such attacks. This is not true, as statistics show that cyberattacks on small businesses are more prevalent than you would think. 67% of companies with fewer than 1,000 employees have been victims of a cyberattack. 60% of affected small businesses could go out of business due to the damage caused by these attacks.

Hackers know that if they can hack a large corporation, they can attack a small business too. They understand that small companies collect data, which cybercriminals can offload for profit on the Dark Web. This includes information like credit card information, medical records, bank account credentials, and Social Security numbers.

Cybercriminals also attack small businesses through their IoT devices and computers and recruit them into an army of bots. They then use the attacked systems to perform massive Distributed Denial of Service attacks. These work by artificially creating mammoth amounts of web traffic to interrupt the service of target companies. The consequences of DDoS attacks include disruption of business operations, blockage of online platforms, and slow response times, among others.

It’s worth noting that hackers can attack larger companies through small ones. Today’s businesses are interconnected through digital connections that enable them to share information, manage supply chains, and complete transactions. There is a common presumption that large corporations are tougher to penetrate. As such, hackers target their smaller partners as a way to get access to their systems. An excellent example is the Target breach that resulted in 40 million stolen credit and debit cards. The hackers gained access to the retail giant’s system through a third-party subcontractor that provides HVAC and refrigeration systems.

Prepare for the Eventuality of Becoming a Victim of a Cyberattack

No business can prevent all possibilities for data breaches. Despite the best efforts, your company can still become a victim of ransomware. However, you can take steps to protect your systems and reduce the risk of an attack. Compared to the cost of a breach, the investment in cybersecurity measures has a significant return on investment.

Having a backup strategy, being IT compliant, identifying an incidence response team, and periodically testing your systems are excellent starting points. You also must align your internal business practices with a well-established cybersecurity framework. This will help decrease the risk your business faces while giving you a strong argument against any claims of negligence.

Having a robust cybersecurity strategy in place calls for the expertise of a knowledgeable team. Such a team will monitor your systems for attack loopholes and recommend the necessary measures to stop hacking attempts in their tracks. Cybersecurity experts also help you with response planning, which is critical for every part of business planning.

At LAN Infotech, we specialize in helping companies manage their computer networks and keep data protected. Your business needs up-to-date technology solutions to perform at optimum. Contact us today to find out how we can help your business leverage pro-growth technology solutions.

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