With rise of ransomware attacks, HR plays a key role in shoring up security.

While large-scale ransomware attacks have grabbed headlines recently (Colonial Pipeline, McDonald's, meat supplier JBS), organizations of all sizes are threatened by this growing risk. And the cost of recovering from a ransomware attack has more than doubled in the past year, according to leading cyber-security firm Sophos.

HR is one of many functions that play a role in anticipating and preventing ransomware hacks. When cyber-criminals launch a ransomware hack, they typically block an organization's access to their own business data, promising to release it only upon payment of large sums of cryptocurrency.

The price of the ransom--an average of $170,404--represents just a small part of a victim's costs. Rebuilding data infrastructure and security procedures is expensive and time-consuming. Recovering from a ransomware attack costs organizations an average of $1.8 million these days, up from $761k just a year ago.

Business often grinds to a halt while the company is held techno-hostage. In May, an attack on Colonial Pipeline froze the company's billing system. Colonial shut down the pipeline because it had no way to invoice customers accurately.

Minimizing ransomware risks requires a multidisciplinary approach. Outside cybersecurity experts and in-house IT staff can implement technical countermeasures. HR must be prepared to reinforce employees' computer-security skills. Experts advise the following measures:

* Use multifactor authentication, which requires entering a one-time code sent to a phone when a password is used to access company data.

* Back up data offline. Critical data should be backed up to a secure location where cybercriminals can't get it.

* Perform penetration testing. Cybersecurity firms can find vulnerabilities in your company's data infrastructure and fix them.

* Plan for the next attack. Assume your organization is vulnerable to a ransomware hack. Develop contingency plans for responding. HR can spearhead pulling together...

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