We caught up with Mick Bradley, the VP EMEA of Arcserve to discuss the growth of cyber attacks and ransomware in the UK, how covid-19 is affecting this and how Arcserve can help.
1. Why is ransomware becoming a growing threat to UK businesses? Does Covid-19 have a part to play?
The pandemic has certainly played a significant role in contributing to the current threat landscape. As lockdowns around the world have forced businesses to shift their operations online and their workforces to work remotely, cybercriminals saw these major changes as an attractive opportunity to exploit new digital channels. Since lockdown began in the UK, we have seen a major increase in criminal activity, which has left UK security agencies to issue warnings against such cyber threats.
Email-based phishing attempts have seen a particularly high spike in activity, with Coronavirus-related attempts almost tripling in just a week after government regulations enforced the move, according to research from Sophos. Many hackers are now impersonating the World Health Organization (WHO) or the United Nations in an attempt to gain access to systems.
Businesses have had to revaluate entire IT paradigms over a very short space of time, and under such pressure, it’s easy for organisations to lose sight of business continuity. Remote work brings a whole new set of security vulnerabilities with a much larger reliance on cloud-based solutions and shared drives that are not backed up automatically. An employee laptop represents a “mini data centre”, with a wealth of critical company data on it, which needs stringent protection against cyber threats.
2. Are consumers becoming increasingly concerned about the affects cyberattacks are having on the services they receive?
Consumers cannot be expected to stick around as consumers of businesses that suffer cyberattacks. Arcserve recently surveyed over 2,000 consumers, revealing that they are less forgiving of brands that suffer these types of cyber-attacks and will happily take their business elsewhere. It’s of paramount importance that businesses are protecting customer data and securing their business continuity in order to avoid both short and long-term ramifications of ransomware, as the initial costs of ransomware attack such as downtime, may be far outstripped by the resulting reputational damage.
The research also found that over 60% of customers said they would actively avoid brands that have suffered a cyberattack in the past year and just under half shared they would tell their friends and family about their negative experience. Businesses careless protection will not only have a negative impact on revenue and growth, but effectively hand customers to direct competitors.
3. What industries are you currently seeing as being most affected by ransomware?
No industry is immune to the consequences of ransomware, however, banks and financial services providers are under incredible pressure to thwart these attacks. Consumers of financial services are more likely to make the switch to another provider in the wake of a ransomware attack than those of healthcare, insurance, utilities or retail. Where UK consumers choose to bank is a deeply personal decision and this is clear in how UK consumers are quick run away from financial institutions which they deem unsafe.
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4. In your experience, what is the biggest mistake or overstep businesses make relative to cyber preparedness?
From what I have seen in recent years, many firms are taking an approach which siloes cybersecurity and protection strategies to an unwarranted degree. Few organisations during a global pandemic can support having large separate teams for both cybersecurity and backup.
An increasing number of enterprises would be best served by integrating their traditionally separate cybersecurity and data protection/backup teams to a far greater degree. Often, these are entirely separate teams that work in silos with different budgets, targets and KPIs.
In the post Covid-19 era, where there is often simply less budget to play with, IT teams should look for solutions that can give them enterprise class service & availability with simplicity and low costs.
Additionally, with the responsibility on businesses to recover their backups as quickly as possible to avoid losing consumer trust, companies need to implement infrastructures that allow them to recover swiftly. This goes beyond making your backups “read-only.” Merely having “locked” backups is not much use, because even though cyber criminals cannot make edits to these backups, neither can members of your own IT team.
Business should instead consider their backups as a type of critical infrastructure, which means defending them with the best cybersecurity protocols possible, just as you would any other key business function. This keeps them virtually immutable, without rendering them as useless to you as to the cybercriminals you’re trying to protect them from.
5. What changes are you seeing in terms of customer buying patterns and their key priorities in the Covid-19 world?
Not only are businesses looking to secure an entirely new set of remote working environments, they are expected to do so on what is for most organisations a far tighter budget.
As a result, IT managers are increasingly searching for solutions that combine data protection and cybersecurity. The days of single-use technology solutions are numbered, and the end-users we are working with are demanding solutions that solve more than just a single problem. We are seeing a move towards all-in-one solutions that solve various problems at once, and a convergence of data security and data protection solutions. These types of solutions can provide not just the lower costs but the level of simplicity that is sorely needed in the current time.
6. Can you provide a summary of what Arcserve does and why it’s so important?
Arcserve provides solutions to protect the priceless digital assets of organisations in need of full scale, comprehensive data protection. Established in 1983, Arcserve is the world’s most experienced provider of business continuity solutions that safeguard multi-generational IT infrastructures with applications and systems in any location, on premises and in the cloud. Organisations in over 150 countries around the world rely on Arcserve’s highly efficient, integrated technologies and expertise to eliminate the risk of data loss and extended downtime while reducing the cost and complexity of backing up and restoring data by up to 50 percent.