The Colonial Pipeline Cyber Attack in May 2021 resulted in 6 days of pipeline service interruptions, leaving many gas stations on the east coast without fuel to sell to their customers. Colonial paid the hacker group the $4.4 million dollar ransom, but the FBI was fortunately able to recover approximately $2.3 million of the ransom. Still – losing $2.1 million dollars is a costly and painful way to find out you have lax cybersecurity, especially considering the cost to audit and tighten cybersecurity would have been a small fraction of that $2.1 million.
Adding to their problems, Colonial is now also the target of a class action lawsuit by gas stations looking for compensation from lost revenue caused by the service interruptions, they say happened, because of lax cybersecurity. Between the ransom, the one-time costs associated with recovering from the attack, the financial impact of the shutdown of their own business for 6 days, and whatever judgment comes from the lawsuit – this attack will likely cost Colonial many millions of dollars when it’s all over.
The worst part? The attack happened because hackers stole one VPN username and password for an account without multifactor authentication (MFA) protection and used the stolen credentials to connect to the Colonial network by VPN to carry out their attack. The Colonial attack is the perfect illustration of the importance of MFA protection for all online accounts – all it takes is one account without MFA protection for bad actors to have access to private correspondence, financial information, customer records, trade secrets, bank accounts and more. Additionally, they can potentially communicate via email and direct message as ‘you’, open lines of credit in your name, buy things with your Amazon account and more.
Small business owners have many online accounts (email, cloud storage, accounting, financial, online store, commerce, etc.) that they use to help run their businesses. However, small businesses often lack the cybersecurity protections larger businesses have because they lack in-house IT experts to implement and maintain these security measures. As such, they are often targeted by hackers for that reason, which is why good cybersecurity practices are critical for businesses of any size.
Cybersecurity is a daunting and complex topic, especially for small businesses who don’t have IT staff or a formal relationship with an IT support company. But it’s an incredibly important topic to discuss, considering the potential consequences of not discussing it and acting on it. Reboot Networks is here to help. Please give us a call at 888-REBOOT8 to learn more about what we can do to help secure your small business.