What Are Ransomware Attacks and How to Protect Your Business and Data
Ransomware is among the most troublesome issues facing businesses due to the increasing interconnections using computer systems. Companies store their files in these systems, and cybercriminals take advantage of the data’s sensitivity and significance to extort the businesses. In a ransomware attack, the hacker locks and encrypts data on servers, computer networks, or mobile devices until you pay a sum of money.
These threats date back to around 2011 and have been on a steady growth since then with no indications of slowing down. In 2019, organizations in the United States incurred over $7.5 billion due to ransomware attacks.
How Ransomware Access Your Systems
Ransomware can access your network in different ways. One of them is through a phishing scam that involves a carefully articulated email that urges a recipient to download a file or click an attachment. If you happen to fall into their ploy, you end up installing vector ransomware that hijacks the computer and can move on to infiltrate the whole computer network and lock everyone out of the network.
The attack can also occur through malvertisement whereby illegitimate advertisements appear on a real site and direct the user to another website containing an exploit kit. Besides, ransomware can self-propagate by spreading on the affected system that attacks all devices sharing the network.
The ransomware’s objective is to coerce victims, including hospitals, multiple city authorities, and businesses, to pay a ransom to get their data back. If the victim makes the payment, they receive an unlock code that unlocks the data. It is difficult to catch cybercriminals because they typically demand payments through anonymous payment modes such as Bitcoin.
Impacts of A Ransomware Attack on Your Business
1. Data Loss
There is a high likelihood of losing data due to a ransomware attack, which is a terrible occurrence in any organization. In fact, loss of irreplaceable and critical data can bring an entire organization to its figurative knees. Such data requires a robust backup and disaster recovery solution to ensure it is safe at all times; otherwise, your firm might have to spend a lot of money on a restoration project.
Consumers consider their data unsafe in your custody, even if your firm has a clean record and will switch to a different company immediately they learn about single ransomware related interruption in your business. Therefore, you can easily lose a large percentage of your competitors’ market share in case of a ransomware attack.
Downtime impacts businesses in many ways. Today’s business environment is competitive, and users are demanding quick services and full access to applications. Therefore, you may lose customers due to downtime, which has a direct impact on your mission. You lose out on revenue when users cannot access your services or products.
Besides, employees have to access critical applications and file the organization to continue working. A ransomware attack affects productivity, while at all this time, the overhead costs continue to run despite the downtime. An extended downtime means that your business continues to incur costs while there is no revenue generation.
If a ransomware attack shuts down an operation line, for example, a manufacturing control system, the impact spreads to the entire supply chain. The repercussions extend not only to the attacked company but also to the businesses that depend on the product. Tower Semiconductor Ltd, a company that manufactures wireless chips and cameras, had to discontinue production in several manufacturing units due to a ransomware attack, which was a costly but inevitable move.
5. Legal Expenses
The accounting department staff could be innocently behind an attack by clicking a bad link while carrying out her roles. It could also happen that hackers discovered a gap in the VPN you failed to patch. However, data encryption or, even worse, exposure to the public puts your firm at risk of litigation. Your business may have to incur legal expenses, penalties, and identity monitoring as compensation owners of the compromised data.
Protecting Your Business Against Ransomware Attacks
Cybersecurity experts recommend that victims of a ransomware attack should not pay ransoms. However, some organizations and institutions pay, hoping to speed up recovery or to prevent more damage. The best action is to search for alternative resolutions since payment of a ransom is not an assurance that the ransomware operator will fulfill the deal. Below are strategies to protect your business from ransomware threats.
1. Employee Awareness and Best Practices
Another way of protecting a business against ransomware attacks is through creating awareness among your employees. They should learn how to distinguish between a fake and genuine email and determination of the common features of a phishing email.
Besides, advise the employees to download attachments and click links in emails from senders they are fully confident of their identities. Cybercriminals can take advantage of macros in email attachments to hijack your system. Therefore, ensure the macros remain disabled and manually turn on when the user wants them to run.
2. Regular Update of Your Systems
It is recommendable that you regularly update all devices, operating systems, apps, plugins, software, and devices. Software publisher fixes any vulnerability they identify in the old versions of their software and releases updated versions. Cybercriminals keep searching for the gaps in old software and use them to exploit users who are still using old software. Therefore, your business must be quick to update the system immediately there is a new update.
3. Invest in a Robust Backup System
Backing up your data is one of the best ways you can protect your business from ransomware. Victims usually suffer in most ransomware cases due to the absence of proper backups of critical data. If you set up a robust backup system, you can easily retrieve all the data and continue with daily operations in a short time, depending on the quantity of data you wish to restore.
While some organizations depend on their hosting site’s backup, it is ineffective since the data is similar to where your original data and cybercriminals can access the backup files. Therefore, businesses should consider third party backups that are encrypted and provide restoration functionality right away from the cloud platform’s control panel.
4. Partner with the Right Outsourced IT Company
The repercussions of ransomware attacks are devastating, and organizations, institutions, or individuals cannot afford to overlook the importance of embracing the best defense mechanisms and solutions against such threats. Having a partner who ensures your organization has the right ransomware protection is one of the precious decisions any business can make.
Outsourcing of cybersecurity services means that you are working with skilled experts who have come across almost every possible cyber threat. The security professionals monitor your cybersecurity situation and offer updated techniques, approaches, and methods that hackers use. Additionally, your partnering company’s independent validation easily exposes any vulnerability in your systems that your internal IT team might not be aware of. Proper IT support helps your business allocate resources valuably and allows the team to concentrate more on the core business.
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