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Ransomware doesn’t discriminate when it comes to its victims–nor do the perpetrators care whether the damage will affect the livelihood of the everyday employees.

The latest example was an orchestrated attack that targeted the workforce management company Kronos, who provides payroll services for large companies and corporations that include Whole Foods, Honda, Allstate and GameStop. Another notable Kronos user is Cardinal Health, Inc., an organization with more than 46,000 employees. Large or small, the attack has rendered these companies helpless in processing payroll for the foreseeable future, which could trickle down to employees who may not receive a traditional paycheck before Christmas.

Instead, employers who used the payroll software to clock employees in and out may have to ask that those same employees track their hours manually. Other alternatives include issuing a generic paycheck that could be adjusted at a later date based upon hours worked.

It’s unclear how long the disruption could continue, but in a statement released on December 13th, Kronos’ chief customer and strategy officer, Bob Hughes, said it could take weeks, if not months, to reach a resolution.

“While we are working diligently, our Kronos Private Cloud solutions are currently unavailable,” said Hughes. “Given that it may take up to several weeks to restore system availability, we strongly recommend that you evaluate and implement alternative business continuity protocols related to the affected UKG solutions.”

 

A Disturbing Trend

It’s just another wave in a tsunami of ransomware attacks that have crippled police departments, government entities, universities, financial institutions and companies large and small in the last few years. This time, it comes right before the Christmas holiday, and only days ahead of an important payroll processing date.

The perverse nature of ransomware preys on vulnerabilities—which are often accentuated during holidays when employees momentarily let their guard down while enjoying time off. On the flip side, hackers and ransomware attacks don’t take vacations, but capitalize on loopholes that may emerge during these holiday windows when companies are understaffed.

Back in August, The Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the FBI issued a release warning specifically about their observations regarding the pattern of ransomware attacks that took place during a holiday and/or weekend.

In the statement, CISA and the FBI warned that “cyber criminals, however, may view holidays and weekends—especially holiday weekends—as attractive timeframes in which to target potential victims, including small and large businesses.”

According to the data collected in August, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) received 791,790 complaints for internet crime, which was an all-time record and a 69 percent increase from 2019. Ransom demands also rose 225 percent compared to the year prior.

With such a drastic increase in cyber-attacks, the FBI and CISA recommend several steps to safeguard your organization against ransomware. These include creating an offline backup of data, updating OS and software, avoiding suspicious links, and using strong passwords and multi-factor authentication.

The troubling trend of ransomware attacks and cyber threats shows no signs of slowing down, making it imperative to have a plan in place to protect data and systems that cyber criminals target.

If your organization is ready to invest data security and ransomware protection, there is no better time than the present. For some companies, putting this off has led to catastrophic consequences. Give the team and Western Integrated Systems a call and we can tailor a solution that is the right fit for your environment.