In September, a meme created by college student Matty Roberts unintentionally stirred government security concerns. Roberts’ Facebook post that caused the commotion read: “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us.” This referred to the 21-year-old’s gag suggestion to raid a US Air Force base to unearth top-secret alien and UFO-related research.
At one point, 3.5 million attendees were projected to join in the “storming,” and Air Force security took the possibility seriously. Roberts ended up face-to-face with FBI agents who wanted to know what the plan was.
While the event somewhat fizzled with only around 3,000 attendees, rather than 3 million, it makes you wonder about ransomware, since in both cases—whether the goal is silly or malicious—a single breach can compromise an entire system.
Read More: Is Security the Same as Privacy?
The Real Area 51 Raid
Roberts’ event may have been much ado about nothing, but ransomware—which in this context could be considered the true-to-life version of the Storm Area 51 concept—is anything but. All it takes is a few minutes of googling “ransomware 2019 attacks” to see over 18 million results about the topic. I’ll summarize them for you: ransomware is everywhere, and it’s on the rise. A glance at the top stories, at the time of my writing, from this overwhelmingly long list says it all:
- Ransomware Attacks Are Testing Resolve of Cities Across America
- Senate Passes Cyber Legislation Aimed at Combating Ransomware Attacks
- US Hospitals Turn Away Patients as Ransomware Strikes
- Ransomware Attacks Double in 2019: Medical Providers Can’t Recover and Shut Down
- Alabama Hospitals Pay Hackers in Ransomware Attack
See the common theme here? And it’s not just these random recent headlines; the upward trend in ransomware attacks has been definitively documented by research, such as in the McAfee Labs Threat Report from August 2019. This report found that ransomware assaults have more than doubled, increasing 118 percent in just the first quarter. Other alarming findings include:
- New ransomware families targeting businesses have been identified this year
- New ransomware techniques have been discovered
- Of particular relevance to the AI universe, more than three-quarters of attacks manipulated user interaction to execute their campaigns
Almost a Given
Ransomware attacks used to be something you figured would happen to another company, not yours—but no longer. With the way that this vicious form of malware is morphing and spreading worldwide, it’s no longer a rare occurrence to be the target and victim of a ransomware hack.
That means it’s time to get prepared to do something different if your data isn’t adequately protected to first handle a ransomware attack and then recover from it (quickly). The first step is to determine how susceptible your operating system is to being taken down by a ransomware strike- large traditional systems and virtualization stacks with many years or even decades as part of the IT landscape are the most vulnerable to ransomware attacks, despite their popularity. The problem with OS’s like this is that cybercriminals are very familiar with them, and have studied their weaknesses allowing them to easily compromise them.
To avoid this and achieve optimum security, using a newer, more modern hyperconverged system is the way to go. Hyperconverged systems offer:
- More streamlined security. There’s no need for services integration from a range of vendors to get virtualization.
- “Snapshot” feature. If you do get attacked by ransomware, you’re still in control because you can revert to a previous snapshot image of the data.
- Pairing capabilities. When integrated with specific partner solutions such as backup support that can tell right when an attack is occurring and reverse the damage in real-time, you can achieve even greater protection from ransomware.
Arguably your chances of being on the wrong end of a ransomware hacker’s dirty work in the next six months is much greater than your chances of spotting an alien or UFO—or getting your hands on classified Area 51 information. With that in mind, put your attention on what matters most to your enterprise’s security and connected devices, and be sure you have the right protection for your system to best prevent and recover from a ransomware attack.