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Paying a Ransom for Your Data Not Likely in the Budget

June 28, 2016

How protected is your technology? This is an important question in the business environment as a failure to secure the network and the applications running on it can leave proprietary information and consumer data at risk. Proper software licensing can help ease the burden, but full prevention requires a bit more attention.

There’s nothing like a high-profile cybersecurity breach to draw attention to the vulnerability of the network. Tens of thousands of computers were potentially exposed to hacker threat when a cyberattack on the BBC, the New York Times and MSN occurred. The companies’ websites hosted ads with malicious code, putting all users at risk once they landed on their sites.

Hackers essentially inserted malicious code into the ads. This code is designed to hit those who aren’t in compliance with software licensing as it looks for vulnerabilities to exploit. Those out-of-date or out-of-compliance lack the proper protection from this kind of attack. When successful, the attack delivers ransomware. This malware, according to software licensing solutions provider, Flexera Software, encrypts a computer’s files until the owner pays a ransom fee.

Flexera Software stressed in a recent blog how damaging hacker results can be, especially when ransomware is in play. The hack is fixable, but only if the organization is willing to pay the ransom to unlike their data.

Government agencies are also at risk for cyberattacks. In Australia, the Bureau of Meteorology  endured an attack that was considered the biggest of 2015. It is expected to cost hundreds of millions of dollars to fix. A VAGO report out last year identified a large number of IT control deficiencies that exist across state government agencies and departments, pointing to a much larger problem. Too often, agencies are ignoring their first line of defense – ensuring all software licensing is up-to-date reduces the attack surface, thereby reducing the number of vulnerabilities.

To mediate these vulnerabilities, Flexera Software suggests the implementation of a Software Vulnerability Management solution. The majority of cyberattacks that have been successful rely on known vulnerabilities to gain access or escalate privileges inside the corporate IT infrastructure. Once the vulnerability is exploited, hackers can move systems around, collect private information and deploy malware.

This is why prevention is so key to protecting the network and the organization. That means that not only does software licensing need to be up-to-date, companies also need to completely vet the solutions they use to ensure they’re sound to begin with. For instance, in its Annual Vulnerability Review 2016, Flexera Software found 16,081 vulnerabilities in 2,484 products from 263 vendors.

Such data points to the importance of ensuring IT is deeply involved in vetting the solutions put in place to ensure vulnerabilities are minimized and malicious ads have no effect on their operations. 

Edited by Maurice Nagle
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