Cyberattacks are showing up increasingly in the news. Some hackers are targeting
large businesses, such as Target and Amazon, as well as municipalities like cities
and police departments. But most hackers are pursuing small businesses and
organizations. In fact, data from Osterman Research found that small and medium
businesses were increasingly victimized. The report, which presented findings
on ransomware and security issues from over 1,000 small and medium-sized
• 35 percent were victims of ransomware.
• 22 percent had to cease business operations immediately
because of ransomware.
• 81 percent of businesses have experienced a cyberattack.
• 66 percent have suffered a data breach.
Note that these numbers only represent reported attacks. The actual number is
higher, since many victims do not report cyberattacks to the proper authorities.
These small and medium-sized businesses include real estate appraisers. The
contents of most appraisal files do not hold personal sensitive information, such
as Social Security numbers and bank accounts, but that doesn’t preclude appraisal
firms from being targets. Businesses of all sizes will remain at risk from hackers,
with small to mid-sized businesses being lucrative, easy quarry.
A hacker’s goal using ransomware is to hold your data hostage by shutting down
access to your own files and demanding typical ransom amounts from $2,000 to
$50,000 in bitcoin currency. Once the ransom is paid, they release your files. Add
to that the cost of recovery and it’s no wonder that within six months of an attack,
60 percent of small companies go out of business.
Here are valuable tips from the Department of Homeland Security on protecting
your data from hackers and ransomware attacks:
What can I do to protect my data and networks?
• Back up your computer. Perform frequent backups of your system and other
important files, and verify your backups regularly. If your computer becomes
infected with ransomware, you can restore your system to its previous state
using your backups.
• Store your backups separately. Best practice is to store your backups on
a separate device that cannot be accessed from a network, such as on an
external hard drive. Once the backup is completed, make sure to disconnect
the external hard drive or separate device from the network or computer.
BY ROBERT C. WILEY
Tips for avoiding cybercrimes
• Train your organization. Organizations
should ensure that they provide
cybersecurity awareness training to their
personnel. Ideally, organizations will
have regular, mandatory cybersecurity
awareness training sessions to ensure
their personnel are informed about
current cybersecurity threats and threat
actor techniques. To improve workforce
awareness, organizations can test their
personnel with phishing assessments that
simulate real-world phishing emails.
What can I do to prevent ransomware
• Update and patch your computer. Ensure
your applications and operating systems
(OSs) have been updated with the latest
patches. Vulnerable applications and OSs
are the target of most ransomware attacks.
• Use caution with links and when entering
website addresses. Be careful when
clicking directly on links in emails, even
if the sender appears to be someone you
know. Attempt to independently verify
website addresses (e.g., contact your
organization's helpdesk, search the internet
for the sender organization’s website or