In 2020, ransomware struck hospitals, schools, and state governments across America. In 2021, the Institute for Security and Technology’s Ransomware Task Force is striking back.

In 2020, ransomware struck hospitals, schools, and state governments across America. In 2021, the Institute for Security and Technology’s Ransomware Task Force (RTF) is striking back.

The California-based nonprofit coalition is taking a top-down policy approach to the increasingly prominent threat of ransomware. Though not the latest in IT security nuisances, ransomware is a significant threat to critical operations across sectors. Essential services are more vulnerable than ever—as of late, ransomware attackers have been targeting hospitals with the dark rationale that, amid a deluge of COVID-19 cases, overworked staff will be more likely to pay a quick ransom to retrieve their data and get operations back online.

In addition to healthcare, ransomware is posing an increasing threat to public security. In the last two years, major ransomware attacks slammed governments in Atlanta, Baltimore, and New Orleans, risking everything from day-to-day procedures at school and work to secure devices in City Hall.

Ransomware is a powerful tool, and in the hands of organized hackers, it can methodically deconstruct IT security responses and recovery plans. In a changing world, experts are getting ready to rise to the occasion—but they’re going to need some help from the establishment.

Refining Ransomware Solutions

From threatening governments’ sensitive data to endangering the lives of hospital patients, ransomware is a nefarious contender in the ever-expanding risk landscape. In 2021, the RTF will do its part with security recommendations to assist governments and the private sector to sturdy their cyber defenses.

The process of formulating those recommendations will be arduous, starting with a cohesive assessment of existing ransomware solutions. The next step will be to suss out gaps and weaknesses in how those solutions are carried out, pinpointing the shortcomings that ransomware attackers are so skilled at taking advantage of. The RTF will use that data to build comprehensive roadmaps of concrete objectives and actionable solutions for leadership to address their cyber-attack response plans.

The coalition’s contributors, Microsoft and McAfee among them, believe that an effective strategy against the evolving ransomware threat includes better defense and, more importantly, more aggressive identification and disruption of dangerous elements in a network. As there is no guarantee that paying the ransomware will give the victim back control of their systems, it’s always better to stop ransomware attacks before they get too far.

This may seem like a monumental task, but the RTF won’t be alone. As a new Congress and administration take their seats in Washington, President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill appoints over $10 billion in IT and cybersecurity funds. The National Security Council will welcome the nation’s first security adviser for cyber and emerging technology in the form of Anne Neuberger, director of cybersecurity at the NSA, and Capitol Hill looks to put $400 million in a grant for state and local leaders to address IT security concerns.

The RTF has voiced its intent to collaborate with Congress and the Biden administration right off the bat and sums it up for all those who may feel exhausted in last year’s wake: “[We want] to do something about this so that 2021 is not just worse than 2020 like everyone assumes it’s going to be.”

Security Pays Off

Bolstering your own ransomware defenses relies upon an exhaustive assessment of your current vulnerabilities. BAI Security’s deep-dive IT Security Assessment provides a comprehensive view of your security posture to give you a complete and accurate understanding of your risk status, with affordable, customizable options for your unique environment, from penetration and firewall testing to social engineering and more.

Still feeling skittish? Much like the RTF’s methodology, our Network Vulnerability Assessment gives you real-time security insights and solutions to ensure your organization is never caught off-guard.

For more information, contact us today.