According to estimates by Cybersecurity Ventures, ransomware damage is set to cost a staggering $265 billion by 2031. By 2023, it is projected that the global cost of ransomware damage will reach approximately $20 billion.
The growing cost of ransomware damage underscores the escalating complexity and sophistication of ransomware attacks, coupled with their potentially devastating consequences. Their high frequency and the simple execution by hackers make them one of the foremost cyber security risks confronting us today.
Both companies and consumers remain susceptible to the menace of ransomware. It is vital to take proactive measures to safeguard yourself, starting with a keen understanding of the threat.
What Exactly is Meant by the Term “Ransomware”?
Cybercriminals utilize ransomware as a type of malicious software to seize control of stolen data and extract payment as a condition for restoring access. Typically, payment is solicited in cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin, as a condition for relinquishing access to the target data and files.
Encryption is used by perpetrators to disable the victim’s data, software, and databases, coupled with a demand for payment in exchange for restoring the system. Typically, attackers impose a deadline, and failure to pay within the allocated timeframe risks permanent loss of data.
The foremost types of malicious software are ransomware and crypto-ransomware. Crypto ransomware encrypts data and files, while locker ransomware denies access to the computer’s operating system.
Ransomware can exploit multiple means to infiltrate computers. It is paramount to recognize that users may innocuously open malevolent files or click on links in phishing emails unknowingly.
Recommendations for How to Shield Your Company from Ransomware Attacks
Install Cybersecurity Software
A proactive strategy is the most impactful form of protection. Equipping computers with trustworthy, up-to-date antivirus software that can recognize and eliminate malevolent software is essential in safeguarding your company against malware invasion.
Security software can be either customized according to the organization’s requirements or bought as a standard product. For optimal results, it is advisable to consult with your in-house IT team or an expert IT consultancy to find the most suitable solution for your business.
Undertake a Vulnerability Assessment
It is crucial for IT to frequently examine all installed applications to detect and remedy any security weaknesses. As cyber attackers constantly develop new methods of infiltrating company networks, consistently updating software is crucial to minimizing the risk of evolving threats.
Performing system scans to detect vulnerabilities may identify potential weak areas in your defence mechanism before hackers can exploit them.
Rectify Security Gaps
Upon detecting any potential security vulnerabilities, it is crucial to immediately make the required fixes to safeguard you and your team from any potential malicious attacks. It is recommended to download and install the latest software updates to prevent any malicious actors from infiltrating your systems and executing ransomware or other malevolent activities. Generally, the software’s creator or vendor can offer the essential updates.
Performing regular system scans for security vulnerabilities will decrease the amount of corrective action that needs to be taken. It is imperative to ensure that your software is updated regularly since bug fixes and security enhancements are typically incorporated into the most recent updates.
Regular Data Backups are Crucial.
The significance of data backups cannot be overstated, as it can prove to be crucial in the event of a ransomware attack. It is essential for all employees to regularly backup data and software, creating a secure data source that can be accessed in the event of a security breach. A backup of your data can provide invaluable assistance in the event of a successful hacking attempt.
It is highly recommended to have automated backups for all devices in your organization and by its employees. The backups should be stored both in the cloud and locally to provide maximum versatility in the event of an emergency. Ensure that the backup has the same level of security as the original data.
Limiting the number of individuals with access to a certain set of data, applications, and systems can reduce the risk of malware infection. To ensure top-notch security, only personnel who need access should be given administrative and editing privileges.
A single accidental click or an unauthorized download can allow ransomware to penetrate a computer system. It is possible that some of your staff may lack knowledge of internet security fundamentals; educating them on this matter can help prevent such issues.
Motivate your staff to extend their learning beyond the training room. Educate them about the significance of online security when accessing the company network from their personal devices or home. For instance, emphasize the possible dangers associated with public Wifi access.
It is highly advised not to pay the ransom if your device has been infected with ransomware. This is the general agreement among cybersecurity professionals, vendors, and the FBI. It is not worth the risk, as hackers are untrustworthy, and there is no guarantee that paying the ransom, which could be a substantial sum, will restore your access to your data.
In lieu of paying the ransom, follow these steps in any order that is suitable for you:
- Engage the services of a cybersecurity expert, either in-house or procured externally.
- Consider the type of threat that you are facing.
- To prevent the virus from infecting other devices, disconnect the affected one from the network.
- Check your backups and evaluate what can be restored.
- Verify if decryption software is available that can enable you to access and read your files.
- Contact the appropriate authorities and report the incident.
- If all else fails, you can always restore to the original factory settings.
It is crucial to establish a strong cybersecurity system to prevent prospective cyberattacks. This can lessen the likelihood of ransomware or other harmful intrusions causing harm to your systems. Therefore, it is important to take the necessary measures to ensure that your systems are appropriately safeguarded, even in the event of a security breach.