What would you do if you suddenly lost access to all of your business’s files? If that sounds like a disaster, then your company needs to carefully evaluate its cyber security strategy to address the growing risk of a ransomware attack. Though most common in the healthcare industry, ransomware has recently expanded its reach into other industries, which should come as no surprise.
Ransomware attacks are lucrative because they sell targeted information back to its rightful owner – and that means it’s unlikely to disappear soon.
Ransomware Attacks Are On The Rise – And Businesses Need To Get Defensive
The Scope Of The Threat
In order to defend against ransomware attacks, businesses first need to understand the many forms these threats take.
The most common types encrypt the target’s files until the ransom is paid to the attacker, but more advanced versions not only steal the information but publish it if the ransom isn’t paid. In either case, they’re typically distributed via email attachments, in game files, or through unpatched software. Generally, the ransom is levied in Bitcoin.
Building A Defense
Given the increased frequency of ransomware attacks, businesses need to develop a robust defense – and that will require multiple moving parts.
The most obvious defense against ransomware attacks is to carefully vet file attachments. This can be challenging because the programs are often hidden inside larger file bundles. Running a virus scan can help, but new ransomware attacks may not be catalogued.
This is why email remains one of the more vulnerable points of entry. Other system points, however, are more easily guarded. For example, consistently installing software patches can help prevent ransomware attacks by repairing known vulnerabilities.
As with other digital threats, education is also key to preventing ransomware attacks. That’s because, although some attacks are well-hidden, many are delivered via email links; a carefully scripted message coaxes the recipient into clicking the link, and the threat is deployed, penetrating the network.
Educating your team so that they know what ransomware typically looks like can go a long way in protecting your business; you need to build cyber security awareness within your organization.
Investing In Solutions
When it comes to ransomware, one of the major concerns facing businesses is whether they will be able to afford to fight off these attacks in the coming weeks and months. Specifically, there’s widespread concern that businesses will cut cyber-security budgets as a result of the pandemic and resultant recession.
Education may be an affordable way to protect your business, but it’s not enough to make up for a gutted budget. Businesses need security software and technology upgrades if they’re going to guard against attacks.
If businesses cut their cyber-security budgets, one major risk is an even greater increase in ransomware attacks – cyber-criminals are quick to spot a vulnerability.
But the reality is that, if companies think that investing in cyber-security is expensive, they’ll find paying a ransom to get their data back even pricier. As with so many other things, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Businesses need to continue investing in security infrastructure if they want to thrive. Even the shortest-lived gap in the wall can put an entire company at risk.