In this Post-Covid reality, Ransomware attacks are on the rise, and it is critical for organizations to learn necessary security measures to protect against it.
Ransomware has become one of the most prominent threats to organizational security – making the cyber security landscape more complex and hostile. A ransomware attack on your business can result in business interruption, data breaches, blackmailing, and reputational damage.
Since ransomware attacks impact almost all businesses without distinction of industry or size, knowing and implementing the best practices to prevent your business from ransomware is critical. This article will share security tips to protect your business from ransomware attacks.
What is Ransomware? How Does it Work?
The ransomware attack prevents or limits users from accessing their system by either locking the system’s screen, the user’s files or even deleting the user’s data until a ransom is paid. The ransomware is a type of software (called “malware”) that works by infiltrating the systems and networks of an organization and encrypting all of the data present in the target, making it extremely hard for victims to recover the compromised data.
Cybercriminals demand a ransom in exchange for a unique key to decrypt or unlock the files. The most common tactic hackers use to carry out ransomware attacks is distributing malicious links and attachments. Email, web browsing and social media are the most utilized platforms for attackers.
Through these platforms, attackers can reach a large number of people by distributing malicious links and attachments. With a few accidental mouse-clicks or a user mistakenly opening an attachment from a strange email, anyone could inadvertently install malicious software on their computer and all files could be locked, or even worse, be deleted forever.
The consequences of Ransomware attacks can include:
Evolution of ransomware attacks in the past decade
During the last decade, we have witnessed an exponential increase in ransomware attacks disrupting the operations of private businesses and public/ governmental institutions on a large scale.
On 14th May 2021, for example, the Health Service Executive (HSE) was the target of a substantial ransomware attack. The attack resulted in a forced shutdown of most of the healthcare IT systems of Ireland – leading to delays and cancelled appointments of patients along with other severe complications.
Cybercriminals demanded a ransom of $20 million in Bitcoin in exchange for agreeing not to sell or disclose the sensitive information of patients. An enormous amount (700 gigabytes) of the HSE’s data was allegedly exfiltrated by the cybercriminals.
The attack was caused by security vulnerabilities present in the networks of the HSE departments that enabled the attackers to infect the critical IT infrastructure with Ransomware. However, a decryption tool provided by the same cybercriminals allowed HSE to initiate the slow recovery of the impacted systems.
Similarly, the renowned University of Utah paid a ransomware gang $500k to prevent the dissemination of sensitive information of students. Attackers used ransomware to target the data stored on the servers of the university. Luckily, the security parameters of the university were only partially breached – allowing hackers to encrypt only 0.02% of the data stored on its servers.
However, the stolen data had enough sensitive information pertaining to the students that would have caused severe consequences if disclosed or misused by the attackers. The university updated its server-side vulnerabilities to prevent such cases in the future.
There is a rapidly growing list of ransomware attacks targeting different types of public/private organizations and businesses. Experts anticipate that the total costs of ransomware attacks will exceed $20 billion by the end of 2022.
Protecting your business from ransomware
Experts estimate that a ransomware attack occurred every 11 seconds in 2022. According to the FBI, there are on average more than 4000 ransomware attempts every single day.
Experts have also reported an estimated €20 billion global impact due to ransomware attacks. These are figures that indicate the gravity of the dangers that ransomware malware presents.
Luckily, like many other cybersecurity threats, ransomware is also preventable.