From the White House to Business: Do Your Part to Prevent Ransomware Attacks

The White House on Thursday urged private companies to examine their online networks and prepare for ransomware attacks after a series of high-profile crises affected pipelines, meat-processing companies and hospitals in the United States and abroad.

A memo to business leaders said the administration is working with allies to beef up defenses, disrupt hacking networks, and hold countries accountable if they host criminal organizations responsible for ransomware attacks.

But he also told the private sector to watch their back.

“All organizations must recognize that no business is safe from being targeted by ransomware, regardless of size or location,” the memo read. “But there are immediate steps you can take to protect yourself, your customers, and the economy in general. As much as our homes have locks and alarm systems and our office buildings have guards and security to deal with the threat of theft, we urge you to take ransomware crimes seriously and ensure that your corporate cyber defenses match the threat “.

The White House told companies to treat ransomware attacks as a threat to the core of their businesses rather than a simple act of data theft.

A high-profile attack on the Colonial Pipeline led to gas shortages throughout the southeast, while JBS Foods had to halt slaughterhouse operations as it regained its footing from a cyber attack this week.

The White House offered some advice.

He said companies should test their backup systems and keep them offline, so they are not infected either.

Businesses should regularly update and patch their systems, test their emergency plans, and ask a third party to test their cyber defenses.

They also said that central operations should be isolated from the grids in the event of an emergency. For example, there may be manual solutions to keep things moving if the online network is attacked.

“Ransomware attacks have affected organizations around the world, from hospitals in Ireland, Germany and France, to pipelines in the United States and banks in the United Kingdom,” the memo read. “The threats are serious and growing. We urge you to take these critical steps to protect your organizations and the American public. “
Many of the recent attacks have been linked to criminal groups in Russia.

The White House said President Biden will address the issue at a June 16 summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Switzerland, although it argued that the government’s role only goes so far.

“The number and size of ransomware incidents have increased significantly, and strengthening our nation’s resistance to cyberattacks, from both the public and private sectors, is one of the president’s top priorities,” the memo said.

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