The White House on Thursday urged American businesses to take new precautions to combat disruptive ransomware attacks that have increasingly hobbled companies throughout Western economies.
Jen Psaki, President Joe Biden’s press secretary, urged private industry to harden access to their computer systems, saying the government “can’t do it alone.”
Anne Neuberger, a White House cybersecurity official, said in a statement that the “most important takeaway” from the recent attacks, including those affecting a key gasoline pipeline and a meat production company in the U.S., is that “companies that view ransomware as a threat to their core business operations rather than a simple risk of data theft will react and recover more effectively.”
“Many ransomware criminals are aggressive and sophisticated and will find the equivalent of unlocked doors,” Neuberger said. “The threats are serious, and they are increasing.”
She urged businesses to “back up your data, system images, and configurations, regularly test them, and keep the backups offline.”
Neuberger said companies should “ensure that backups are regularly tested and that they are not connected to the business network, as many ransomware variants try to find and encrypt or delete accessible backups.”
The deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging tech also said U.S. businesses should “test your incident response plan” because “there’s nothing that shows the gaps in plans more than testing them.”
Neuberger said companies should use third parties to test their own security work, segment corporate business functions from manufacturing and production operations and regularly test contingency plans “so that safety critical functions can be maintained during a cyber incident.”