What SMEs should be thinking about in the wake of Wannacry
Australia has proven itself to be that “lucky country” once again. Whilst we largely escaped any large-scale fall-out from the WannaCry ransomware attacks of a few weeks back, it’s sobering to realize that it was a big, big deal for many, many others – more than 200,000 victims in 150 countries over the first weekend in fact.
One thing’s for sure though, there will be more attacks; better and more sophisticated. And just like on CSI Wherever, there will be countless “copycats” who will come up with same-same but slightly different hacks, scams and malware to roll out their cyber terror and evade our newly patched systems.
You may feel secure that you’ve dodged a bullet with Wannacry. You may even have taken away some refreshed learnings from the Wannacry crisis; that human error and employee education are key and that a combination of internal and external IT resources is optimal to cover all bases. (Check out our Top Tips to Protect against Ransomware Infographic)
Yet as the heat of the sting starts to die down, there’s a final piece of the puzzle that most organisations simply don’t think about strategically.
Not just data loss or lock-out; but organisational paralysis. What would that look like for your organisation? Well let’s look at the organisations hit by Wannacry. They are still battling disabled systems, organisations in crisis, most with data still locked up, and grappling with the moral dilemma of whether to pay up or not (despite expert recommendations not to pay).
“But if I’ve got a good backup system in place, can’t I just reinstate my data?”
I cannot tell you how many times I have heard this sentence over the last few weeks. By and large in the SME world, we do backup systematically and there is pretty good awareness about the regularity of backing up, and yes, this will help you sleep a bit easier at night.
However, a business’ viability depends on three key elements: that your data and systems are available, secure and recoverable at any given time. Systematic backup and using secure cloud-based storage solutions might ensure data is available, implementing security best practises to protect against cyber threats and human error might bolster your security. But in the case of a breach or cyberattack, how long would it take for you to recover your data, systems and operations; where would you do this, and at what cost?
Businesses in the digital age need to complement their security and backup measures with a separate and distinct disaster recovery plan. How long would it take you to retrieve your backed-up data? Would you even be able to use that data if you were locked out of your business-critical systems too? If your business reliant on digital infrastructure, waiting minutes, not to mention days or even weeks, to reinstate your data or systems from a backup could be crippling…there’s a never-ending list of scenarios where the longer your down-time, the greater your exposure to financial loss and business disablement.
It’s telling that in the PwC Annual CEO Survey, 80% of CEOs in Australia said that they are concerned about cyber threats, but when asked about areas of business they want to strengthen to underpin new digital business opportunities – not a single CEO mentioned cybersecurity!
Post Wannacry, pro-active cybersecurity might be more prominent in business leaders’ minds next survey. But now that we’re on the topic, we need to complete that final step and start treating recovery as the new backup; as an equal part of the security equation to guard our businesses against even costlier and much longer term hamstringing effects post-cyber-attack.