While “phishing” is a well-known cyber security threat, officials at Canada’s Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) were caught in a more costly net when the group’s servers were hit with a ransomware attack. The group’s website and web-based data sharing program – essential for an upcoming annual meeting – went down under the attack and have yet to be restored. 

Previously, a consultant recommended that NAFO consider implementing a “security information and event monitoring system that would either prevent, detect or warn of the presence of installed software.” But that advice was ignored. Now NAFO must decide if they will pay the ransomware demand (an undisclosed amount) or attempt to restore their systems in other ways. 

Ransomware attacks, which are typically made through the Dark Web, are devastating for small businesses, which often lack the preparation or resources of larger corporations to restore operations. In an already-challenging business environment, ensuring that your digital environment is prepared to defend against these attacks should be a top priority. As NAFO learned the hard way, failing to repair small vulnerabilities can have outsized consequences.

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