Doing business online in 2021 is fraught with cybersecurity risks. One of the most well-known cyber crimes are the dreaded ransomware attacks, whereby hackers access your servers, block you from accessing them, and demand payment in exchange for letting you back in.
Ransomware attacks can be devastating for businesses from a variety of different sectors. Files stored on servers are often business-critical, and a sudden lack of access to them can completely halt the operations of a company, leading to an immediate loss of productivity and income. If the attack becomes public knowledge, it can also become a PR disaster for the affected company.
Ransomware attacks are so common – and so disruptive – that they’re giving the White House a serious headache. Some ransomware attacks, such as those perpetrated by the creators of the infamous WannaCry software, are well reported. However, here are some others that you may not have heard of.
Greek banking sector brought to its knees by ransomware
In 2015, three Greek banks faced a ransomware attack orchestrated by a group called Armada Collective. They carried out a DDoS attack on the banks’ websites, which led to them being down for many hours and disrupting payments made by customers online.
The hackers then demanded 20,000 bitcoin ($6.7m) and said if they refused to pay up, their websites would be taken down. This would effectively take them back to pre-internet ways of doing business. Publicly, the banks were bullish, stating that the problem was being dealt with by the Greek secret services.
However, this was a sophisticated attack that took three major banks out of action at the same time. After a few days of disruption, the banks were able to upgrade their security systems and avoid paying the ransom, despite repeated attempts by Armada Collective.
Hospital’s Patient Data Ransomed
In 2016, Ottawa Hospital was the victim of a major cybersecurity attack when a few of its computers were compromised, and hackers were able to access patient records. They locked the files, demanding a ransom payment to re-grant access.
The hospital was left with no choice but to wipe their hard drives of all patient records so that the hackers had no leverage over them to demand further payment. Thankfully, no patient data was leaked, and thanks to a previously devised backup process, the hospital was able to retrieve the deleted files.
However, the lessons from this attack are twofold. Firstly, it shows how important it is to prepare for ransomware attacks so you can respond decisively when they occur. Secondly, it shows how disruptive – and potentially deadly – such attacks can be if not prepared for.
Austria Hotel’s Check-ins Frustrated by Attack
This attack shows just how disruptive ransomware attacks can be for a business’s productivity. In 2017, an Austrian hotel was hacked, and the system they used to program guests’ keycards was disabled. This meant that for the duration of the attack, the staff was unable to check any new guests in, as they couldn’t assign a keycard to their rooms.
The hackers asked for 1,500 Euros ($1829) to restore access to the system. They were forced to pay the ransom in bitcoin to regain access. This example shows how severely a simple ransomware attack can affect the day-to-day running of a business.