Ransomware Brings Unique Risks to Law Enforcement Agencies
Many security experts agree that ransomware is the greatest cybersecurity threat organizations face today. Ransomware attacks nearly doubled in the first half of 2021, compared to 2020. In a recent Sophos survey, 37 percent of respondents said they were affected by ransomware in the past year. The National Security Institute estimates that the average ransom demand is now $200,000, compared to $5,000 in 2018.
Any organization that’s hit with a ransomware attack faces a high risk of extended downtime and business disruption. The attack encrypts all the data it can find, so users cannot access the applications and information they need to do their jobs. If the data cannot be recovered from a recent backup, it may be lost forever.
Law enforcement agencies face another challenge. If an investigation involves digital evidence such as a video recording or data recovered from a suspect’s mobile device, a defense attorney could argue that the ransomware attack broke the chain of custody. Even if the data is ultimately recovered, cases can be compromised if prosecutors cannot prove that the evidence has not been tampered with.
Risk of Exposure
What’s more, brazen cybercriminals are going beyond the encryption of data. Ransomware attacks are driven by a desire for financial gain, and organizations are increasingly reluctant to pay the ransom to recover the encrypted data. As a result, cybercriminals have been upping the ante by threatening to expose data if the ransom is not paid.
Once cybercriminals gain access to a victim’s network, they can exfiltrate data before it is encrypted. Organizations face the risk that customer data, trade secrets and other sensitive information will be exposed. The threat is greater for healthcare organizations, law firms and other entities that face legal, regulatory or ethical requirements to protect such information.
For law enforcement agencies, there is a threat that personnel records will be exposed, putting officers and their families at risk. Cybercriminals have also threatened to release the personal information of crime victims if the ransom is not paid.
Protecting against these attacks requires a multipronged approach that includes email and device security, ongoing monitoring, incident response and more. Organizations should also have a robust backup solution that maintains data offsite in a protected environment and is tested frequently to ensure data can be recovered.
How GDS Can Help
Devices used in the field are often the most significant weakness for law enforcement agencies. Officers need laptops and mobile devices to access license plate information, criminal justice records and other databases. However, endpoint devices are frequently targeted by cybercriminals seeking to spread ransomware and other malicious code and gain access to an organization’s network.
Many security experts agree that ransomware is the greatest cybersecurity threat organizations face today.
GDS has the expertise and resources to protect growing numbers of devices. In fact, we are currently managing 875 endpoints for a local sheriff’s office to reduce the risk of ransomware and other threats. We continuously monitor endpoints for malicious activity and suspicious behavior that could indicate an attack. We also ensure that endpoints are kept up-to-date and meet prescribed standards for security.
Few law enforcement agencies have the IT staff resources or technology tools to manage that many endpoints. They often lack the expertise to implement state-of-the-art security tools and respond rapidly to events and alerts. Every security solution that GDS delivers is fully managed by our team, freeing law enforcement agencies of IT headaches and providing peace of mind.
Ransomware is a scourge that can impact any organization, but law enforcement agencies face unique risks. Let GDS help you protect your valuable data and prevent cybercrime from disrupting your operations.
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