Businesses are frequently targeted by cyberattacks, whether its phishing scams or denial of service attacks. However, not many cyberthreats have had the same impact as ransomware. Ransomware is far from being a new menace, but in recent years, it has wreaked havoc on the corporate world. In this blog, we’re going to cover:
- What ransomware is
- How ransomware works
- How you can protect your business
- Why ransomware is on the rise
The Impact of Ransomware: What You Need To Know
If you’ve heard of adware, spyware, or Trojan horses, then you’re aware of malware. The word malware is an umbrella term that refers to all malicious software meant to harm or exploit computing devices. Ransomware is a part of this hostile software family. It’s designed to encrypt files, applications, or operating systems for the purpose of holding them hostage until a ransom is paid.
No one is safe from a ransomware attack, whether it’s an individual or a company. However, cybercriminals tend to focus most of their attention on corporations. Companies are usually targets because they have access to valuable sensitive information and are more likely to pay than individuals.
Ransomware is particularly dangerous because of how damaging it can be and how far that damage can extend. If you’ve never experienced a ransomware attack, it can be difficult to visualize the direct and far-reaching impacts of ransomware. To put it into perspective, an immediate impact of ransomware would be the cost of resolving the issue; the average cost rose to $1.85 million in 2021, according to a study from Sophos. An example of far-reaching consequences would be when the largest oil pipeline on the U.S. east coast suffered an attack last year—the result could’ve had affected the national economy.
How Does Ransomware Spread Through a Network?
There are a variety of ways for ransomware to be installed on your device. Some of the most common ways tend to be through malicious emails and URLs. If you fall for one of these tricks, your device may become infected. But how does your device end up infecting others on your network?
Once a ransomware attack is successful, a hacker is going to try to encrypt as many assets as possible. To achieve this, the attack moves laterally from the point of entry, attempting to obtain credentials with administrator privileges. With that information, they are free to spread the malware to other devices, usually to systems that are critical to your operations. Ransomware spreads quickly and can infect an entire network in a day.
How To Protect Your Business From the Impact of Ransomware
The impact of ransomware is big enough to devastate any company, but that doesn’t mean you can’t protect your business. Here is what you can do to greatly reduce your chances of having your network compromised.
- Educate Your Employees: Educate your staff on the dangers of ransomware and other cyberthreats. Providing online courses, learning tools, and other helpful items can boost their understanding of the subject.
- Train Your Employees: In addition to education, you should train your workforce on how to spot suspicious activity. You can also perform simulated attacks that require your employees to use what they’ve learned in a realistic scenario.
- Have an MSP: Partnering with a Managed Security Service Provider gives you access to state-of-the-art cybersecurity solutions. For example, 42, Inc. offers Managed User Security Training and security services to help with detecting ransomware and removing it from your network.
- Maintain Communication: Stopping ransomware attacks is a team effort. You need to maintain ongoing communication about cybersecurity with the rest of your workforce.
- Configure Your Filters: Since email is one of the most common attack vectors, configuring your anti-spam filters to flag certain file types can reduce your risk. Files like .exe and .vbs are commonly associated with ransomware.
- Backup Your Data: It’s a good idea to prepare for the worst. By backing up your files and systems regularly, you create duplicates that can be used if you lose access to the originals.
Why Ransomware Is on the Rise
The sudden increase in ransomware seems to be linked to vulnerabilities, ease of payment, behaviors, and geopolitics. Let’s start from the vulnerability perspective. Despite relying on digital infrastructure more and more, a large number of companies aren’t investing in the cybersecurity solutions they need to protect themselves.
There’s also the fact that processing payments has become more criminal friendly. For example, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, or Dogecoin provide a way for people to be paid anonymously. Although every transaction is transparent and trackable, no one has to provide identifiable information to create an account. This makes it difficult to link an account to a specific individual, making it a perfect solution for criminals to collect unlimited anonymous payments from their victims.
The way companies tend to behave after a ransomware attack hasn’t helped either. Some companies choose to pay the ransom, but there’s no guarantee that the attacker is going to decrypt your information. In fact, the aforementioned report from Sophos says that only 8% of businesses that pay the ransom get all of their data back. Paying the ransom only encourages the cybercriminal to do it again.
Finally, there’s the geopolitical aspect that involves ransomware gangs. These gangs not only create new ransomware and target corporations, but they also lease their product to anyone willing to pay the price. Most ransomware gangs hide in jurisdictions that can’t be reached by US law enforcement. Unsurprisingly, these groups often go unpunished even after they admit their crime.
Protect Your Network From the Impact of Ransomware
Don’t let a ransomware attack ruin your business. 42, Inc. offers a variety of cybersecurity services to prevent and protect your network from all cyberthreats. We even tailor our solutions to the unique needs of your business.
Contact us today to learn more.