Biofuel Breaches Prove Worrisome, and Costly

Taking an Offensive Approach to Cybersecurity is the Best Defense

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The sudden increase in reports of cyberattacks on Biofuels plants have stirred some uneasiness throughout the industry.  While the subject is far from new, the fact that it has repeatedly hit businesses within the same industry recently is causing alarm.  “Whether there is a concerted effort to attack biofuels businesses in particular has not been determined, but this unfortunate jolt reminds us to always be diligent about cybersecurity, and on high alert for potential weak spots and openings,” says Donna Funk, principal for K·Coe Isom’s biofuels advisory team.

Should you be worried?

The damage that cyberattacks impose is undeniable.

  • The cost of the average data breach to a U.S. company is $7.91 million (U.S. dollars).
  • The average length of time it takes to identify a data breach is 196 days.

(The Ponemon Institute’s Cost of a Data Breach 2018 Study for IBM)

According to Jason Smith of ISG Technology, there were 300 million documented ransomware attacks in 2018 – an uptick of 300% since 2017.

“The statistics can be, and should be, unnerving,” says Smith.  “With few law enforcement resolutions to these cases, your best defense is a good cybersecurity offense.  We are witnessing businesses of all shapes and sizes being attacked, and billions of dollars in losses occurring annually throughout the U.S.”

Protecting your assets

Having a cybersecurity plan in place involves more than just having the latest version on McAfee installed on your end users’ PCs.  Smith notes that the most common form of business disruption is ransomware.

Ransomware generally happens in two forms.

1. – Trojan style via email with an attached file that is opened/clicked, or

2. – Worm style that requires no human interaction and can travel between computers alone. Various types of ransomware cannot be reversed after they infect all of your data and backups.

Other types of cybersecurity to be concerned about include spyware, phishing, Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS), and others. The most common sources of the attacks come from rogue governments, terrorist, industry spies, hackers, and even employees past and present.

“When this happens, we typically work with our clients and others who might be vulnerable to ensure they are protecting themselves in three primary areas,” says Funk.  She adds, “Unfortunately, the only true fix is prevention.”

3 ways to prevent security breaches

While nothing is absolutely foolproof, the influx of cyberattacks is alarming, and the small cost to implement cybersecurity measures far outweighs the loss statistics.  K·Coe Isom and ISG Technology have partnered up to help biofuels companies instill cybersecurity measures.  They recommend that every business should work with a technology partner to implement these three easy ways to prevent security breaches:

  1. Back-up, back-up, back-up. Cloud back-up providers are cheap and seamless.   Having 6-12 months of your most essential data is far cheaper than losing everything.
  2. Perform a complete IT audit to understand what is on your network and assess its risk factors.
  3. Make certain that your business process and practice support the level of cybersecurity that will keep you out of the newspapers. Regular penetration testing and ongoing updates should be incorporated.

As technology continues to evolve, so too do technology breach methods.  The only true way to protect against the people that threaten your business is to find a trusted partner to provide user training, complete anti-virus and phishing practices, proper equipment and patching, managed backups, attack monitoring, and a complete Business Continuity Plan (BCP).

K·Coe Isom’s seasoned business advisors are adept at understanding the biofuels business environment and its goals, and work in conjunction with partner ISG Technology experts to identify the type of technology and functionality that will meet cybersecurity needs.  Contact a K·Coe Isom advisor to assess your cybersecurity prevention plan.

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