Tuttle, H. (2018). Only half of ransomware payouts result in data recovery. Retrieved from http://www.rmmagazine.com/2018/04/02/only-half-of-ransomware-payouts-result-in-data-recovery/
Tuttle (2018) describes how ransomware attacks are rising and people are losing their data to these attackers, who hack into computers and networks, take the information that is stored therein by locking out the users and obliging them to pay a ransom in order to get access to their data. This is why it is called ransomware. The hackers hold the data hostage (instead of people), and if the ransom is paid, then the hackers are supposed to give access back to the rightful owner. However, as Tuttle (2018) shows, there is really only a 50-50 chance of one actually getting their data back if they do decide to pay the ransom.
These findings come from the research firm CyberEdge Group, which â€œfound that 55% of organizations were compromised by ransomware last yearâ€ (Tuttle, 2018). That is an extraordinary percentage, and indicates that companies must be prepared to face cyber risk in the future so that they do not have to deal with issues like ransomware infecting their computers and networks and causing them to lose access to their data and information storage systems.
However, the one good point that Tuttle (2018) does not is that the research firm CyberEdge Group shows that that ransomware attacks are actually on a decrease, because in 2016, 61% of organizations surveyed had been compromised by ransomware attacks. In other words, either hackers are using this method of attack less frequently or else businesses are starting to wake up and taking ransomware more seriously and are thus developing methods of combating these attacks, protecting their equipment and infrastructure and exercising proper risk management.
The bad news is that if a company is compromised by a ransomware attack, there is only a 50% chance of the data being recovered should the organization choose to pay the ransom. Otherwise, the company is more or less looking at a total data loss. Paying the ransom is no guarantee that data recovery will be possible. This means that companies have to be extra careful when it comes to managing the risk regarding ransomware. Having backup data storage, for instance, is a crucial imperative in todayâ€™s digital world: files have to be backed up if they canâ€™t be secured. Risk management in the digital age entails having a data backup strategy in place, as CyberEdge Group points out (Tuttle, 2018).
Another piece of good news, according to this article is that CyberEdge Group also saw a decline in the percentage of companies negatively impacted by a cyber attack. In 2016, 79% of organizations were the victims of cyber attacks. In 2017, 77% were victims of cyber attacks. Thatâ€™s a 2% decrease in the amount of victims of cyber attacks; however, that is still a very high figure, which shows that many organizations are still not very well protected when it comes to digital safety and security.
The overall aim of Tuttleâ€™s (2018) article, therefore, is to show that while some companies are taking steps to protect themselves, others are still negligent and need to be woken up to the fact that cyber attacks are real. If safety measures are not taken to prevent them, one cannot simply rely upon paying the ransom in order to get data back, because in the cases of ransomware attacks, paying the ransom only gives on a 50% chance of having access to data restored.
McDonald, C. (2018). M&A growth consistent in 2018. Retrieved from http://www.rmmagazine.com/2018/04/02/ma-growth-consistent-in-2018/
McDonald writes that mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in 2018 are set to be on track for meeting M&A growth in 2016 and 2017. While there were huge mergers and acquisitions so far this year already, such as AIGâ€™s acquisition of Validus for $5.6 billion and AXAâ€™s purchase of XL Group for $15.3 billion, these two acquisitions are not expected to drive M&A growth beyond what was seen in the previous two years. Part of the reason for that is the fact that investors are still waiting to see how the economy will play out in the coming months and possibly years. Tax reform has been past but there is uncertainty about the extent to which this will be beneficial for the economy or if there will be additional stimulus to give businesses incentive to engage in more mergers and acquisitions in the coming year.
Some of this expectation has to do with high consumer and investor confidence, which has improved substantially since the great economic recession of 2008. The economy of the U.S. has improved and the global economy has also done better over the recent years, according to McDonald (2018). These factors play a part in how many M&A deals will go through in any given year and what the total value of those deals will end up being. McDonald notes that in 2017 there were a total of 84 M&A deals, which is a number down by 13% from the year prior, 2016. However, the average M&A deal value was approximately $422 million, which was 11% more than the average deal value of M&A deals in 2016. So there is some sense of balancing out in this perspective. All the same, total deal value was down 32% from 2016 to 2017, with the total number of M&A deals in 2016 equaling to $21.7 billion and the total number of deals in 2017 only equaling to $14.8 billion. This shows that the value of mergers and acquisitions declined in the post-election year from the election year.
McDonald (2018) notes that the 2016 election undoubtedly played a role in the number of M&A deals that went through in 2017, as there was a lot of risk for investors and corporate leaders to process, what with a new president taking control of the White House and a new administration with a new mandate and a new way of doing things appearing on the scene. Whenever there is a change like this, especially with an incoming president who is considered an establishment outsider, the business world and the economic movers and shakers take note and are less likely to engage in big buying sprees than in times where there is relatively high confidence in the market and in which way the economy is going.
Now that the president has been in power for more than a year and the economy seems to still be improving, there is more confidence all the way around the market and so M&A deals are likely to keep growing or at least are likely to remain consistent with the previous two yearsâ€™ numbers. Though the total amount of deals made in 2017 was down from 2016 slightly and the total value of the deals down substantially, there were still some very hefty mergers and acquisitions that took placeâ€”and already in 2018, there have been two huge deals. So even if there are fewer M&A deals for the rest of this year, the numbers should be in line with 2017â€™s numbers and with 2016â€™s numbers to some extent.
Holbrook, E. (2018). Will bitcoin turn business on its head? Retrieved from http://www.rmmagazine.com/2018/03/01/will-bitcoin-turn-business-on-its-head/
Holbrook (2018) points out the cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, ethereum and ripple have had huge increases to their value over the past year, but that volatility remains. For instance, bitcoin was valued as high as $20,000 per coin in December 2017 but two months later bitcoin was trading at $7000 in February 2018â€”a substantial and quite frightening drop in value over a two-month time span. This indicates that the crypto craze that saw values soar at the end of 2018 may have been driven by a bubble mentality in the making. However, with prices plummeting and bottoming in February of this year, there appears to be a rebound in the making with cryptocurrencies on the rise again in terms of price. Though nowhere near where they were at the end of 2017, there does still seem to be some interest in them among consumers and businesses.
Part of the reason for this interest, Holbrook (2018) points out, is the ease with which cryptocurrencies can be used. Companies like them because it means they donâ€™t have to pay bank transaction fees. There is no need for fraud protection because cryptocurrencies show where the payments come from in a way that credit card usage does not. Cryptoâ€™s history is embedded in each transaction so that every time a coin moves, it is recorded digitally into its historical record. This is what makes cryptocurrency so intriguing and valuable for peopleâ€”that and the fact that there is only a finite amount of them in circulationâ€”unlike fiat money printed off by central governments.
However, big banks donâ€™t like crypto so much and have cut off the credit cards from being able to purchase them. That means that it will be harder for people to buy cryptocurrencies in the coming years. And even though nations like Japan have made crypto legal tender, other nations are clamping down on crypto because it is harder to tell whether the wealth used to buy crypto comes from criminal activities or not. Because the wealth is hidden though the transactions are recorded, governments are suspicious of cryptoâ€”and that means that companies are still hesitant to accept crypto for the most part, even though some already do.
Another risk is that even though bitcoin and ethereum only have a finite amount of coins that can be harvested, there are so many new cryptocurrencies coming along that one can hardly keep up. In 2018 there are already more than 1,300 cryptocurrencies in the crypto space and there are new ones being added every single day. While this is mainly driven by speculation, people are going to obviously play the markets and buy the dips, which has been seen this year already.
The future thus looks bright and interesting for cryptocurrencies and their users. Many experts on this currency expect it to be around for a great while longer as its utility for people who want to bypass big banks and governments is significant. As more and more businesses sign on to accepting bitcoin and ethereum and other cryptos as payment, more credibility and validity is going to be given to these alternative coins. However, so long as volatility remains, there will be some confusion as to whether these coins are must-haves or must-sells. Only time will tell, as Holbrook (2018) shows, for the future of cryptocurrencies may be now, but that future is not all the way told yet, and the markets will have to see what comes along in terms of regulation from big governments like the U.S.
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