Our modern working world has brought about changes in the cyber risk profiles of small and medium businesses in Canada – most companies depend entirely on their computers, so much so that any interruption or cyber-attack can bring their operations to a dead stop. Tier 3 I.T. Solutions are experienced in preventing and mitigating damages in these rapidly-changing times.

With increased options for hybrid work and more time spent online, businesses are more vulnerable today than they were pre-pandemic. Cybercriminals know this and have ramped up their attacks to take advantage of these newly created weaknesses in business networks worldwide.  Having people working from home, on non-company owned devices, and potentially using insecure connections makes them easier targets for cybercriminals than those businesses that are in fully managed IT environments like offices.

Some of the reasons include the abrupt switch to the Work From Home (WHF) model, which resulted in:

  • The inability to manage and monitor their staff’s work-related IT devices and activities when they’re working outside the corporate network.
  • Employees accessing their digital workstations and data from unsecured home networks, and shared workspaces
  • A sharp increase in the use of personal devices by employees for work purposes
  • A general lack of knowledge and understanding of the cyber risks introduced by your staff.
  • Businesses prioritizing their users’ convenience at the expense of network and data security

Detailed measures exist to face these challenges. While these can be significant deterrents, they are no guarantee that staff and digital infrastructure are fully secure. One malicious attachment could bring the whole IT infrastructure crashing down. And, if there’s a data breach where confidential information has been compromised, then you’d be looking at hefty compensation payouts or worse. It is for this reason why you need a comprehensive cyber insurance policy.

Cyber insurance is not something new, but its use has never been so critical. Today, we will focus on cyber extortion and what it could mean for your business.

Cyber Extortion – What is It?

Like other forms of extortion, a cybercriminal will attempt to hold your business for ransom by encrypting data on your systems. By exfiltrating company data, a cybercriminal is essentially stealing a copy of it and threatening to either release it publicly, sell the contents, or use the information to harm your business.  For many companies, recovering from the encryption event is relatively straightforward since most companies have comprehensive backups. However, if data has been stolen, there is a whole new level of risk, and many options to consider. Cybercriminals know this and have prioritized data theft simply because it increases their chances of collecting a ransom from the attack.

For example, the WannaCry Ransomware incident of 2017 changed how many tech users envisioned the capability of a single piece of malware. Cybercriminals used malicious code known as a worm (a form of malware) to infiltrate more than 200,000 target computers and ‘freeze’ data access for users. The ransom demands in this attack were relatively low, just $300 if paid in the first couple of days and then increasing to $600 after that.

By comparison, during a large-scale ransomware attack in 2021, the ransom demands were $5,000 for a single file, $50,000 for one computer, or $5,000,000 for an entire business to be decrypted. The ransom demands continue to increase because of the exfiltration and risk of having your company’s information shared with the world at large. And unfortunately, the ransom amounts pale in comparison to the total cost of interruption, which can be calculated in the billions.

What would you do if someone held your data hostage or, worse still, threatened to leak it online? 

Our Approach

As a general rule, we recommend that you never pay a ransom, however when your data is being held hostage you, or your insurer may decide that is the best option to pursue. If that is the case, you must never pay a ransom directly – remember that many cyber incidents are carried out as attacks by organized criminal groups based overseas.  If you were to pay them directly without understanding who is receiving the money, you could end up funding a terrorist group – likely a crime that you could be prosecuted for.

If your insurer chooses to pay a ransom, they will investigate and confirm that they can safely pay the ransom, taking the risk and ensuring you don’t cross into criminal territory.

The takeaway is that these issues may never be as simple as they seem. While you may want to act with urgency, it takes cyber insurance experts to compliantly resolve the issue on all possible fronts and a strong I.T. team to offer future protection.

You cannot invest in a cyber insurance policy and forget about putting data security measures in place. Like any other insurance, cyber insurance will have exclusions based on the scope of your digital infrastructure. Any laxity on your part in data security can cause your coverage to become null and void—this is where a trusted managed services provider can be of help.

An experienced MSP like Tier 3 I.T. Solutions can help you pick the right cyber insurance policy based on your needs. They can explain the exclusions and contents clearly to you—in your terms and help you design and maintain the security mechanisms and processes necessitated by the cyber insurance policy.

Tier 3 I.T. Solutions are experts in cyber security, managed I.T., and data recovery. Through proactive training measures and industry-leading tools, we work alongside your key team members to ensure that problems don’t arise in the first place. We also offer data recovery and backup for your most critical files and infrastructure in those events where the crisis has passed.

Thanks for reading, and be sure to contact us to learn more about our services.