Ransomware Attack Closes Baltimore County Schools For Five Days

This Baltimore county is one of this year’s many ransomware victims. Are you sure you’re properly protected against ransomware?

Ransomware Attack Closes Baltimore County Schools For Five Days

This Baltimore county is one of this year’s many ransomware victims. Are you sure you’re properly protected against ransomware?

Another day, another victim of ransomware. The ongoing conversation about ransomware has kind of become white noise at this point. There are so many ransomware attacks that it’s hard to stay engaged.

But that’s what cybercriminals are counting on. If you’re not paying attention to the latest cybercrime news, you won’t learn how to protect yourself.

Case in point: a Baltimore county was recently hit with ransomware, prompting their schools’ closure for five days while the incident was dealt with.

As is often the case, the school’s administration has not given many details about the attack or how it occurred. It is known that a video conference on December 1 was cut short by an IT issue, and further issues with school systems were reported by teachers later that evening, leading to the discovery of the breach.

Regardless of the specific circumstances, the attack’s effect is still clear — operations were brought to a halt for five days, costing the school board thousands of dollars in lost productivity from their staff and further affecting the students and families connected with the school.

The question you need to ask yourself is: could I survive a five-day shutdown?

How Does Ransomware Work?

Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts the target’s data (making it unreadable and inaccessible) and holds it for ransom. It targets all data on the target’s systems, making it impossible for them to ignore until they pay the ransom or restore the data from backup.

Typically, an unsuspecting employee clicks on an emailed attachment that appears to be a bill or other official document. In actuality, the attachment installs a malicious software program (malware) onto the computer system.

There are several ways that hackers can trick targets into downloading ransomware:

  1. Phishing: Phishing is a social engineering technique that “fishes” for victims by sending them deceptive emails. Phishing attacks are often mass emails that include ransomware as an attachment.
  2. Malvertising: Hackers have found vulnerabilities in many popular, modern browsers like Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. The spam users with official-looking pop-ups informing them of an “infection” or “security alert” prompting them to download a file or click a link. As with so many of these methods, it just comes down to getting the user to interact with malware in some way without them knowing it.
  3. Out Of Date Hardware: Many of the most common malware and viruses used by cybercriminals today are based on exploiting those programming flaws; to address this, developers regularly release software patches and updates to fix those flaws and protect the users.

Do You Know What Ransomware Could Cost You?

According to Coveware’s Q4 Ransomware Marketplace report:

  • The average ransomware payout is $84,116
  • The highest ransom paid by a target organization was $780,000
  • The average ransomware attack results in 16.2 days of downtime

How could it possibly be so damaging and expensive? Just think for a second what it would be like if you couldn’t access your data. Technology is such a crucial part of business today that you cannot do much of anything without it.

What Would Happen If You Were Infected With Ransomware Right Now?

Do you have a plan? Are your system endpoints protected? Are your backups recent, tested, and viable?

It’s a mistake to assume that just because you haven’t been hit by ransomware yet, that you won’t be anytime soon. You may think you can put off investing in effective cybersecurity support, but without warning, you may get hit.

Don’t assume you’re safe — working with the Advantage Industries team, you’ll know for sure.

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Keith Heilveil

In 1999 Advantage Industries was created to protect and promote our client’s success through the use of innovative technology. Our company is a full services technology firm that provides computer network support and solutions, managed services, cybersecurity, and custom application development for small and medium businesses in the Maryland, DC, and Virginia areas.

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Tim Happel

Tim Happel

Sr. Director of Sales, PMP

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