BOISE, Idaho — Ransomware attacks can impact all businesses, no matter the size of the company. The United States has seen the carryover from hacks on an oil pipeline on the East Coast and a beef plant in Colorado.
This type of cybercrime is nothing new, but it is gaining more traction.
"It started out attacking individuals and holding individual's computers for ransom," said Edward Vasko, the director of Boise State University's Institute for Pervasive Cybersecurity. "Having been in the industry for 30 years, each year we see a similar style of attack that either impacts our critical data or critical infrastructure."
Hacks on large companies have dominated recent headlines. However, according to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), small businesses are still the main targets and impacted the most.
"One hack can really take down your business," said Rebecca Barr, the PR and communication manager for the BBB. "These hackers know that they can target these smaller businesses knowing that they don't have the right systems in place in order to avoid these cyberattacks."
Experts believe investing in proper tools to keep data safe is crucial.
Ransomware may be the latest trend in cybercriminal activity, but Vasko said the cyberwar has been going on for decades. Companies and organizations have been losing the cyberwar, but Vasko believes it is because of the number of professionals not being utilized.
"I think companies of all sizes need at least a cybersecurity advisor," he said. "All businesses I think need to engage a cybersecurity professional in the same fashion that you engage a lawyer or an accountant to help you with other areas of your business."
People and companies do not need to hire a dedicated information technology (IT) employee but should think about outsourcing IT to a cybersecurity company.
The Institute for Pervasive Cybersecurity aims to train and place cybersecurity professionals in workforces across Idaho and the region.
Vasko also believes all businesses and organizations need to properly train their employees on basic security practices because cyberattacks, like ransomware, can come in all different forms. People should be aware of what is coming into their inboxes and how to spot phishing attempts.
"If something doesn't look right, like, if you get an email asking you to click or open an attachment or open a website, don't do those things," Vasko said.
Another piece of advice Vasko has for everyone is to keep their computer software and internet browser applications up to date.
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