It’s been an unfortunate trend that more and more businesses have been the subject of massive cyber attacks, leaving them with downed systems as information is held hostage. These ransomware attacks can affect any business of any size, and they’re on the rise.
Being targeted by cyber criminals could leave you vulnerable without the help of cybersecurity experts to ensure you’re prepared. We’ll help you understand what ransomware means, how it works, and how you can start protecting your own information.
What is Ransomware?
At its most basic, ransomware is malicious software designed to block access to a user’s computer systems unless a ransom is paid.
Most ransomware works by encrypting essential data that the victim needs access to in order for their company to function. Cyber criminals employ asymmetric encryption, which requires two keys for encryption and decryption. The ransom is paid to gain access to the keys, allowing the data to be decrypted and accessed again.
Ransomware works by accessing cybersecurity vulnerabilities and searching for business-critical files, and the malware can spread throughout entire networks and across multiple organizations.
The Fallout of Ransomware Attacks
In May of this year, CEO of Colonial Pipeline Joseph Blount had to explain to the Senate the decision to pay cyber criminals $4.4 million in cryptocurrency after a crippling ransomware attack prompted a six-day company shutdown.
A subsequent FBI operation helped the company recoup approximately $2.3 million in BitCoin of the ransom paid.
Despite paying $40 million dollars per year for cybersecurity, there was no response plan in place to deal with ransomware attacks. This left the largest refined oil pipeline system in the United States vulnerable and led to the difficult decision to pay the criminals rather than leave consumers without fuel or energy.
After paying the ransom, Blount stated he believed “with all [his] heart” that it was the right decision. While the decision to pay the ransom ultimately led to the recovery of the company’s data, the fact remains that continually paying hackers is not a sustainable option for businesses.
Even more recently, the beginning of June has seen 60 members of Congress locked out of their systems and unable to access information to constituent outreach programs. This frustrating development is the continued aftermath of a ransomware attack that took place in May against iConstituent, a tech vendor that supplies a range of services to Congress’s office systems. The attack left administrative officers unable to deal with communications from constituents and thus unable to correctly deal with their caseloads.
Ransomware on the Rise
With examples like Colonial Pipeline and iConstituent clearly demonstrating that even huge organizations aren’t prepared to deal with ransomware attacks, it’s no wonder that ransomware and other cyber crime is on the rise. Unfortunately, the more companies that pay ransom, the more cyber criminals are going to take the plunge and risk attacks.
According to Statista, there were 304 million individual ransomware attacks recorded in 2020. Those stats won’t include instances where companies simply paid the ransom and didn’t report the incident to avoid bad press. In the United States, 68% of businesses report they paid the ransom in order to get control back over their systems.
Ransomware attacks don’t always hit just one organization per attack, either. The WannaCry Ransomware attack of 2017 impacted computers in 150 countries and possibly affected 200,000 users. Even the U.K.’s health service was dramatically affected, leading to a complete overhaul of cybersecurity within the national organization.
How to Protect Your Business from Ransomware
As most ransomware holds data hostage, the first thing you can do to mitigate the effects of this type of attack is to ensure all critical data is backed up. Ransomware has no power if you still have access to that encrypted data from another source. Other ways to deal with ransomware include:
- Install a firewall or other cybersecurity policy that includes not clicking unverified links and avoiding apps from untrusted sources.
- Use your own secure network that will keep unwanted users out.
- Gain advice from cybersecurity experts to understand if there are any weaknesses in your network that could be exploited by cyber criminals. Penetration testing and vulnerability scanning can provide valuable insights into your system’s ability to withstand bad actors.
Being targeted by hackers and cyber criminals could leave you vulnerable without the help of cybersecurity experts to ensure you’re prepared. Work with a trusted IT company to protect your business from the ever-increasing threat of ransomware.
Worried about your information being vulnerable to ransomware attacks? Innovative Network Solutions makes cybersecurity easy.
For more information, contact us online or call 866-572-2850 today.