Last week, businesses, schools & hospitals across Europe and Asia were locked out of their computer systems by a quickly spreading ransomware attack. Manufacturers shut down assembly lines to prevent the spread of damage; hospitals turned away patients; and Google reported searches for ‘Bitcoin’ nearly doubled worldwide.

Fortunately, the U.S. was spared from the massive onslaught by an unlikely hero, MalwareTech – a 22 year old cyber security researcher in the UK who lives with his mom. In the time it takes most to recover from a heavy lunch, he found a vulnerability in the code. By registering the long, nonsensical web address, he activated an imbedded kill switch in the program, so tthe ransomware could no longer spread.

However, this isn’t the end for attacks such as these. Ransomware events are becoming ever more common in our increasingly connected world. Yet, as business infrastructures across the world rely heavily on computers to get work done; many don’t invest the time & capital in keeping up with software updates and systems upgrades that are designed to prevent such attacks.

The Dark Web has made even the most novice of hackers into supervillains. Ransomware programs with graphical interfaces (ie – pretty icons that can walk you through how to launch an attack) are available for a small fee. Worried about ROI? Fear not hackers, many come with a money-back guarantee!

So what is to be done? There are many steps companies can take to protect their business. From IT security software to employee education on complying with software updates and use of private data, there’s a lot you can do to mount a defense. But that’s not enough. To date, there is no firewall update for the carbon-based units in your office (even Joan in accounting). You’ll never be able to prevent 100% of the threat because it only takes one employee clicking a malicious link or opening what looks like a legitimate email attachment to bring business to a halt.

Specific questions? Email Rachel Dobbs.

The information provided herein presents general information and should not be relied on as insurance advice when analyzing and resolving a specific issue. If you have specific questions regarding a particular fact situation, please consult with competent insurance brokers and/or legal counsel about the facts and laws that apply.