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Recent Malware Attacks – How They Affect Individuals and Businesses

Lately the news has been filled with one incident after another of aggressive and damaging malware attacks. The latest attack, dubbed WannaCry or Wanna Decryptor is a ransomware attack that will lock users out of their systems until they pay the ransom of $300 via Bitcoin. If the ransom isn’t paid quickly enough the price will double and after seven days, the data stored on the computer will become permanently inaccessible.

One of the truly upsetting aspects of this particular malware is that it was created by the N.S.A. Unfortunately, it was manipulated and is now being used to lock people and businesses out of critical data on their computers – unless they are willing to pay the ransom to restore their systems.

One incident reported on in The Intercept discusses hospitals across England that were affected by cyber attacks so profound they were encouraging residents to seek medical care ONLY in the event of emergencies. The England attacks affected a huge swath of systems causing issues with X-ray imaging, pathology results, phone systems, and more. The NY Times also reports that the attack crippled Russia’s Interior Ministry computers as well. Initial reports are that Russia was the hardest hit by this attack, but that it also spread to other countries including Taiwan, Latin America, Ukraine, India, and Africa.

The New York Times is reporting that this attack has affected 200,000 computers in more than 150 countries around the world. The attacks, thus far, have specifically targeted Windows machines, but it is important for computer users with all operating systems to protect themselves against increasingly bold and aggressive cyber attacks that include hacking, malware, and ransomware.

How Does Malware Affect Business?

From the onset, malware is an annoyance for businesses. In the case of ransomware, businesses that pay the “ransom” are out the money for that investment – at the very least. But, there are other costs involved in a malware attack that businesses need to consider. Costs you can’t afford to ignore.

  • Business Disruption. In the case of the hospitals affected by the ransomware attacks, the costs could be catastrophic because they were forced to turn away non-essential procedures and patients. How much would it disrupt your business if you were forced to operate without the data stored on your computer systems for one hour, one day, or forever? That doesn’t even take into account resources and personnel that are diverted to tackle the problem.
  • Financial Costs. On top of all a disruption in operations, your business could be forced to pay damages to employees and customers who have had their personal and financial data revealed during a cyber attack. This is in addition to financial losses resulting from the business disruption, loss of information, and other things the attack is directly responsible for. Don’t forget the costs of bolstering your computer systems to guard against future attacks, too.
  • Legal Costs. Many times customers will turn to the law and court system to help them recover from financial losses or other damages that occurred as a result of their information coming to light during a cyber attack.
  • Loss of Customer Information. if you’re like most businesses, you have a lot of customer information on your computers. This information can be stolen and used to harm the customers you serve – people whose information you’re responsible for safeguarding.
  • Loss of Reputation. Because you are responsible for protecting personal and financial information relating to your customers – including information that is considered confidential or protected – your reputation will certainly take a hit when you prove unable to do so because of a targeted attack or hack against your business. This loss of reputation has a trickle down effect, as existing customers depart your company for another one who hasn’t had a malware attack or cyber breach and potential customers steer clear of your business.

Many small business owners feel they are too small for hackers and malware operators to target. This is not true at all. While the big targets like Sony, Target, and Home Depot are certainly attractive to experienced hackers, they all get that experience by cutting their teeth on individuals and smaller organizations.

How Does Malware Affect Individuals

Credit card numbers, other banking account information, usernames, passwords, health records, and other sensitive information obtained and used maliciously by criminals can quickly not only create stress for affected individuals, but also financial hardship.

Protect Yourself and Your Business with Cyber Liability Insurance

Computer hacks, malware attacks, and ransomware are all bad news for individuals, small businesses, and large corporations alike. While it would be nice if you had millions to invest in protecting your data and a team of cyber experts working to protect your systems, most people simply cannot afford that.

Which is why it is so important to protect yourself and your business from cyber exposures with insurance protection designed to do just that. Call today to learn more about our insurance solutions.

Protect yourself, your business and its customers and employees by taking steps now to reduce your cyber exposure and risks. For a complimentary consultation of your cyber liability risks and to learn more about how to reduce them, including being protected with cyber liability insurance in NYC, fill out the below form or contact Honig Conte Porrino Insurance Agency.