We’ve written a few times recently about municipalities, companies, and government agencies hit with ransomware attacks this year. In early July, it was reported that a court system in Georgia was attacked with ransomware, causing lawyers, court employees and the public to have to rely on “old school” paper to file pleadings and keep the court system running. This got me thinking about ransomware, and then I came across a Security Tip (ST-19-01) sheet from the Department of Homeland Security, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) that I thought was worth sharing.

The tip sheet has three key suggestions to protect data and networks: back up data, store backups separately, and train your staff. Anyone who ever had a personal computer “crash” back in the day knows that having backup files is invaluable. Imagine if your entire company’s data, or your municipality’s or court system’s data were completely inaccessible. What would you do?

Being prepared by having data properly and completely backed up with files off-site and able to be restored in the event of a ransomware attack means the difference between being down for a brief period of time and being locked out of data permanently or potentially paying thousands of dollars for a decryption key that may or may not work. The federal government wants you to report ransomware attacks to the FBI and not to pay ransom at all.

Staff training is also critical, so staff is aware of all of the things that bad actors will do to try to trick people into clicking on malicious links. Simple things like calling someone to verify if they actually sent an email with new bank routing information or if they sent a request for confidential documents go a long way to protecting a company from a cyber-attack.

What else can a company do? Think about cyber liability coverage for ransomware attacks and other cyber threats. That premium payment for cyber coverage would be minuscule compared to the potential cost of a ransomware attack.