The Surge of Ransomware: Safeguarding Your Business
In our technologically interconnected world, the possibilities seem boundless, from free global communication to controlling our homes remotely. However, this interconnectedness also presents risks when malicious individuals exploit vulnerabilities for nefarious purposes. Among the most alarming cyber threats that have emerged is ransomware, a term that instills fear in cybersecurity professionals worldwide.
Ransomware poses a significant menace due to its rapid proliferation across diverse systems and its devastating impact on businesses. In this discussion, we will delve into this menacing threat and explore the measures essential to fortifying your business against its perils.
What precisely is ransomware, and why should businesses be concerned? Like other forms of computer threats, ransomware derives its name from its operation: it holds data or computer access hostage until a ransom is paid. Depending on the circumstances, the ransom can range from a modest sum to exorbitant amounts, exceeding a million dollars.
These attacks often manifest as part of email phishing schemes. Cybercriminals have grown increasingly sophisticated, leading to a surge in such attacks, targeting even seasoned professionals who were once considered immune to such deception.
The Alarming Rise
Ransomware has risen to become one of the most prevalent cyber threats confronting businesses today. To grasp the magnitude of this issue, consider that in 2018, there was a staggering 300% increase in ransomware attacks compared to the previous year. The trend continues in 2019, with the number of attacks already surpassing the total for the entire preceding year.
Why has there been such an upsurge? Primarily because it proves lucrative for the hackers. In setting the ransom amount, hackers typically consider factors such as the size of the company and the value of the data. Often, they establish the ransom at a level lower than the cost of manually restoring the data, tempting many businesses to pay the ransom, especially if they lack comprehensive backup measures. The FBI advises against paying ransoms to avoid encouraging hackers, but it acknowledges that some organizations may feel they have no other recourse without adequate security protocols in place.
The prominence of ransomware in the news stems from the fact that hackers have expanded their targets to include governments of various sizes, in addition to businesses. For instance, seven municipalities in Florida alone have fallen victim to ransomware attacks. In April, the city of Tallahassee paid $500,000 to regain access to critical systems and data after a ransomware attack, diverting funds from employee payroll to fulfill the payment. Similarly, the city of Riviera Beach paid over $600,000 in Bitcoin for a ransomware attack in May after an employee fell for a phishing scam.
National governments have also become targets. For example, the government of Ecuador reported over 40 million attempted hacks on their system, some of which succeeded, resulting in hefty ransoms.
Mitigating the Threat
It is no exaggeration to state that “ransomware is here to stay.” Nonetheless, some positive news accompanies this warning. Although ransomware itself is relatively new, it leverages traditional means to infiltrate computer systems. Typically, ransomware exploits pre-existing vulnerabilities, such as viruses or phishing attempts, to gain access. By employing established preventive measures against these primary threats, businesses can enhance their resilience against ransomware attacks.
Proactive cybersecurity practices, coupled with robust backup strategies, are essential to thwarting ransomware effectively. Safeguarding your network from known vulnerabilities before ransomware strikes is paramount. Additionally, a dependable backup system enables seamless restoration in the event of a breach.
Is your current cybersecurity system equipped to combat ransomware and other cyberthreats? Contact us today to fortify your defenses against this rapidly growing menace.