Cybersecurity Ventures has estimated that the total cost of ransomware damage will reach $265 billion by 2031. They also predict that the global total cost of ransomware damage in 2023 will be around $20 billion.
This highlights the increasing sophistication and complexity of ransomware attacks, as well as the more serious implications they carry. The prevalence of such attacks and the ease with which hackers can launch them make them one of the most pressing cyber security risks currently facing us.
Companies and consumers are both vulnerable to the threat of ransomware. Taking steps to protect yourself is essential; being aware of your adversary is the first step.
Exactly What Is This Thing Called “ransomware,” Anyway?
Ransomware is a form of malicious software employed by cybercriminals for the purpose of demanding payment in exchange for restoring access to stolen data. Typically, payment is demanded in the form of cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin, to regain access to the victim’s data and files.
The perpetrator renders the victim’s data, software and databases unusable through encryption, with a promise to unlock the system upon payment of a ransom. A time limit is often stipulated by the attacker, after which the victim faces the risk of permanent data loss.
Ransomware and crypto-ransomware are two of the most prevalent forms of malicious software. Crypto ransomware encrypts data and files, whereas locker ransomware prevents access to the computer’s operating system.
Ransomware can infiltrate computers through various means. It is important to be aware that users may inadvertently open malicious files or click on links in phishing emails without realizing their malicious nature.
Advice on Preventing Ransomware Attacks at Your Company
Get Cybersecurity Programs Setup
An offensive approach is the most effective form of defense. To ensure your business is protected against malware, it is essential to equip computers with reliable, up-to-date antivirus software that can identify and remove malicious programmes.
Security software can be tailored to the needs of an organization or bought off the shelf. For the best solution for your business and its needs, it is recommended to seek the advice of either your in-house IT team or a specialist IT consultancy.
Conduct a Vulnerability Assessment
It is essential that IT routinely audit all installed applications to ensure that any security vulnerabilities are identified and addressed. As cyber attackers continue to find new ways to gain access to company networks, it is paramount that software is consistently updated to mitigate the continually changing risks.
Scanning your systems for vulnerabilities may alert you to potential weak points in your defences before hackers have a chance to exploit them.
Patch Security Holes
Upon discovering any potential security vulnerabilities, it is essential to make the necessary repairs promptly in order to protect both yourself and your team from any potential malicious attacks. It is advisable to download and apply the latest software updates in order to prevent any malicious actors from gaining access to your systems and launching ransomware or other malicious activities. Generally, the software’s creator or seller will be able to provide the necessary updates.
Regularly scanning for security vulnerabilities will help minimize the amount of remedial work that needs to be carried out. It is essential to ensure that your software is kept up-to-date as bug fixes and security improvements are often included in the latest updates.
Data Should Be Backed up Regularly.
The importance of backing up data should not be underestimated, as it could be essential in the event of a ransomware attack. All staff should ensure that data and software is regularly backed up, providing a secure source of data that can be accessed in the event of a breach. Having a backup copy of your data could be of invaluable assistance in the event of a successful hacker intrusion.
It is strongly advised that your organization and its employees have automatic backups in place for all devices. These should be backed up both on the cloud and locally, to ensure maximum flexibility in the event of an emergency. Ensure that the same level of security is applied to the backups as the originals.
The risk of malware infection can be mitigated by reducing the number of individuals with access to a particular set of data, applications, and systems. To ensure optimal security, only those personnel who require access should be granted administrative and editing privileges.
Inform Your Employees
An inadvertent click or an unauthorized download can be all it takes for ransomware to gain access to a machine. It is likely that some of your employees may not be aware of the basics of internet security; providing them with education may prevent issues from occurring.
Encourage your employees to take their learning beyond the classroom. Educate them on the importance of online security when using their own devices or connecting to the company network from home. As an example, emphasize the potential risks associated with public wifi.
Managing Infection After the Fact
It is strongly recommended not to pay the ransom if your device has been infected with ransomware. This is the general consensus amongst cybersecurity professionals, vendors and the FBI. The risk is not worth taking, as hackers are not trustworthy and there is no guarantee that you will regain access to your data after paying the ransom, which could be an excessive amount.
Instead, do the following, in whatever sequence that works for you:
- Use the services of a cybersecurity specialist, either in-house or outside procured.
- Think about the kind of danger you’re up against.
- In order to stop the virus from spreading to other gadgets, you need unplug the infected one from the network.
- Take a look at your backups and see what you can bring back.
- Check to see whether decryption software exists to let you open and read your files.
- Get in touch with the authorities and report the incident.
- In a worst-case scenario, you can always revert to the factory settings.
It is essential to implement a robust cybersecurity system to prevent potential cyberattacks. Doing so can reduce the risk of ransomware or other malicious intrusions causing damage to your systems. As such, it is important to take the necessary precautions to ensure that your systems are adequately protected, even in the event of a security breach.