How Hedge Funds Can Stay Ahead of Ransomware with the Right Incident Response Plans

There can be no hedging your bets when it comes to defending against ransomware.

Funds don’t need to look far for high profile examples of devastating attacks, from Conti’s strike on Costa Rica in April to last year’s infamous Colonial Pipeline breach.

And ransomware is on the rise, thanks to the growth of trends like ransomware-as-a-service. Verizon’s 2022 Data Breach report found a 13% year on year increase of ransomware attack: a jump greater than the past 5 years combined.

Hedge fund cybersecurity has never been more important – no one wants to be another headline or a cautionary tale in a security blog. And the cost of an attack is never just the ransom demand. The disruption to services, legal costs and reputational damage are all huge losses victims must bear.

Outpace the criminal element

Financial firms like hedge funds and private equity funds are prime targets for ransomware. After all, criminals know to go where the money is. But just because you have a bull’s eye on your back doesn’t stop you from blocking arrows.

Consider these fundamental steps to keep your hedge fund ahead of malicious actors:

  • Prepare for an imminent ransomware attack like it could happen tomorrow- and that includes creating an incident response plan. Yes, it’s superstitious to think that writing up a plan will somehow invite an attack. But yes –  having that plan could be the deciding factor in your fund’s survival.
  • Your cast-iron response plan should provide a structured approach to an attack, checklists for certain stages, and even template emails to help manage communications in the event of a breach. Make sure you save the plan in a way that lets you access it even if your systems are under fire. It’s well worth turning to experts for support here to ensure there are no weak links in your strategy.

On the topic of weak links, it’s crucial firms identify theirs and strengthen them. Vulnerability remediation is the key to staying ahead of ransomware, particularly in the age of remote working where new, roaming devices now require access to your network. Your firm needs to consistently test for weaknesses and invest in sophisticated endpoint protection as part of your overall vulnerability management program.

Also be sure to invest in company-wide education (right up to your C-Suite) and check the services and cover offered by your business insurance provider in the event of an attack.

You’ve been hit – now what?

Let’s say the worst happens and, for all your careful planning, you’ve been hit by an attack. Now what?

The big question on your mind will be whether to pay the ransom – but experts and government agencies like CISA advise you should not. There’s nothing to force a criminal to honor the ransom and there’s a high risk of follow up demands.

So what should victims do? Working with authorities will be central to your response – but you should immediately start taking action on your own.

Ultimately, this will involve following your incident response plan, but don’t’ forget other important steps. Quickly determine which systems are affected and immediately isolate them, and begin restoration and recovery of those systems in order of priority, consulting with your security team to gain an initial understanding of the attack and inform team members and relevant stakeholders. More details and government advice can be found on the CISA website.

Is your fund prepared to face a ransomware attack? Our team of experts is here to shore up your security and provide you with the highest possible protection. Get our support with security policies and incident response plans, identifying hidden vulnerabilities and delivering comprehensive and memorable training.

Contact us today