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Ransomware Attack Payments: Texas School District, US Travel Firm Pay Cyber Extortion

Cybercriminals have received cyber ransom payments after they launched ransomware attacks against the Athens Independent School District (ISD) in Athens, Texas and CWT, a U.S. travel management company, according to separate reports about the attacks and apparent extortion payments.

Athens ISD officials will pay $50,000 to restore school district data after a ransomware attack against its servers, Government Technology reported. The ransomware attack also has delayed Athens ISD schools’ start date from today to August 10; the schools’ start date could be further delayed as well.

Meanwhile, CWT has paid $4.5 million to cybercriminals who stole sensitive corporate files as part of a Ragnar Locker ransomware attack, according to Reuters. CWT temporarily shut down its systems after it discovered the cyberattack but has restored its systems since that time.

Should Organizations Pay Cyber Ransoms?

Agreeing to pay a cyber ransom may inadvertently do more harm than good, which is reflected in findings from “The State of Ransomware 2020” report from cybersecurity company Sophos.

Key findings from the Sophos report included:

  • The average cost to address a ransomware attack was approximately $730,000 for organizations that did not pay a cyber ransom; comparatively, this average cost rose to $1.4 million among organizations that paid a ransom.
  • 51 percent of organizations said they were victimized by a significant ransomware attack in the past 12 months, and 27 percent said they paid a cyber ransom.
  • 84 percent of organizations have cybersecurity insurance, and 64 percent have insurance that covers ransomware attacks.

Sophos also provided the following tips to help organizations combat ransomware attacks:

  • Develop a cybersecurity strategy that accounts for ransomware attacks.
  • Use anti-ransomware technology.
  • Safeguard data stored in private and public cloud and on-premises environments.
  • Perform regular backups and store backups offsite.
  • Buy cyber insurance that includes ransomware coverage or add this coverage to an existing cyber insurance policy.
  • Leverage a layered cybersecurity strategy.

The average ransomware payment is increasing, and organizations must plan accordingly.

How MSPs Can Mitigate Ransomware Attack Risks: To safeguard your MSP business and clientele from ransomware attacks, follow this tip sheet.

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