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Ransomware

Ransomware is one of the biggest cyber threats affecting banking today. How can you stay protected? Does your insurance plan cover Ransomware? Do you have an appropriate coverage limit? Will your insurance company help with the removal of the Ransomware?

What is It?

Ransomware is a form of a computer virus. However, this isn’t one that causes your computer to slow down or deliver an insane number of pop-ups. Instead, it will paralyze your computer access. It freezes up everything, so you can’t access web browsers, email accounts, or even photos and documents stored on your hard drive. According to the FBI, even some smart phones have been hit with ransomware.

Want to get it all back? Hackers typically ask for a sum of money (“ransom”) in exchange for a key, which will grant back that access. The facts are these hackers are NOT the most honest people (ya think?). Therefore, they are very likely to realize that the more contact they have with you, the greater the likelihood they will be caught. So, even if you pay ransom, you probably are not going to get back to where you were before the attack.

The total cost of a Ransomware loss will include the cost of hiring an IT company capable of restoring your system, and removing the Ransomware. There is always the possibility that you will not be “made whole,” and you will have to pay the additional cost of reformatting all your servers and workstations.

How to Spot It

There are two main types of ransomware. One will lock your screen, so you can’t access anything. The other locks your actual files—again, so you can’t access anything. This is typically followed by an on-screen ransom message, demanding money in exchange for your digital files, your computer, and/or your sanity.

One form of ransomware is known as CryptoWall 2.0. This attacks the files on your hard drive and any other drives connected to it. It then directs you to a specific website, which is basically a ransom page.

According to Microsoft, there are some forms of malware that will even make you take surveys in order to restore order.

Banks Are Prime Targets

You may think you are not high on a hacker’s hit-list, but come on, you ARE a bank! As the famous bank robber, John Dillinger said, “that’s where the money is!”. According to an August 2016 report published by Osterman Research, 80 percent of organizations in the U.S. have had some type of cyber attack in the past 12 months, with 50 percent being the victim of ransomware.

Often the ransomware is distributed through spam or malware in ads, etc., and can just as likely infect your mom’s spare PC as it would a company network. So NOBODY is really safe from Ransomware!

Ransomware certainly is a pain, and it can also be dangerous. Earlier this year, the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center paid $17,000 to hackers, who put lives at stake, when they seized control over the hospital’s computer systems. A key point is, Banks should have a very specific policy limiting what their employees can do on the internet on company computers, and limit their access to only the sites they MUST use to do their job.

How to Prevent It

The web is a wonderful place, but there are dangerous websites out there. Do not click on strange email attachments and stay away from anything suspicious. This would include websites and downloads! However, it may be hard to tell if something is dangerous until it’s too late. That’s why it’s important to have antivirus protection installed. McAfee, Symantec, Malwarebytes, Trend Micro, EMET, Avast, and many others make highly rated antivirus software for this protection. Of course, antivirus software and firewalls are no guarantee that you’ll be safe from ransomware, but they’re definitely the first line of defense. Also, make sure that software is backed up—often. New threats are released all the time, so it’s important to keep your software up to date.

What Insurance Covers This Exposure?

The Kidnap/Extortion coverage of your Financial Institution Bond covers this type of loss very nicely. It may well include Risk Control services to help you remove the Ransomware, and restore your programs/data. Your Cyber Liability policy may also provide these services. This is a good time to contact your insurance companies to see what services are available.

Conclusion

Ransomware can be a real headache, but with some careful planning, good antivirus software, and the proper insurance protection, it need not be a disaster.

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