The truth is that attackers have built a profitable illicit business model driven by financial gain which means no one is safe if there is money to be made. Ransomware is not going anywhere and will only continue to grow in size, sophistication, and severity without a coordinated, comprehensive, “whole of society” response.
Organizations of all sizes should support their teams through training, policies, and a comprehensive security program but the commitment of the individual to good digital security is incredibly important. Good digital security, specifically not reusing passwords, disabling inactive accounts and leveraging multifactor authentication, would have helped prevent the Colonial attack.
We must all recognize that our individual actions are directly linked to large-scale outcomes where technology and digital security are concerned. Your good digital security practices help prevent attacks that can affect access to critical services for millions of people.
The US government and its allies must work together to deter ransomware attacks and push international cooperation to identify and extradite criminals for prosecution. Significant effort must be put into disrupting and dismantling the business model of ransomware by impeding access to funds, transparency and reporting requirements for attacks and any payments made to attackers, prosecuting criminals, and dismantling ransomware infrastructure.
We need a national response strategy that facilitates signal sharing, reduces likelihood of payment, and clarifies reporting channels and support options for affected entities. The strategy would build resilience by supporting organizations of all sizes in preparing for ransomware attacks, promote good digital security, and provide incentives for minimum cybersecurity for critical infrastructure.
This work requires public and private collaboration to be most effective.
Absent individual and organizational action to employ good digital security and a comprehensive whole of society approach to address ransomware, we are facing a future where ransomware will continue to escalate. This escalation has the potential to not just spike gas prices and slow access to your favorite deli meat but impair small businesses, lead to the crippling of critical support services and operations like health care and electricity, and potentially even harm to or loss of human life.
The ransomware threat is not going away. Let’s work together to defeat it.