What Is Ransomware & How Can You Protect Your Business From It?

November 12, 2020

Ransomware is, unfortunately, increasingly present in our lives. Companies must find ways to adapt to this and thereby avoid harm. Ransomware is a kind of malware that encrypts files and demands ransom to restore the victim's data. Intellectual property, processes, confidential information of employees and clients, and other data run the risk of being exposed to the public or to the competition, damaging the reputation of the victim, its productivity, operations, and financial status.

According to Kaspersky, ransomware is a criminal lucrative scheme that can be installed through misleading links in an email message, instant message, or website. It can lock a computer screen or encrypt important, predetermined files with a password that would not be given out, unless the ransom is paid.

Ransomware has been placed as a major cyber threat since 2019, due to the number of incidents the US suffered. According to Tecnozero, ransomware attacks skyrocketed by 500% in that year and 1,000 companies were fully impacted by ransomware, including government agencies, medical companies, and educational institutions. In fact, research shows that attackers could target universities, even more because of their smaller security teams and a user base that shares many files, making it easier to access their information and bypass their defenses.

Here are some facts to consider:

  • It is estimated that more than 4,000 ransomware attacks are detected daily, infecting approximately 30,000 to 50,000 devices each month. - GB Advisors
  • While targeted ransomware attacks generally occur against corporations, many individuals have suffered as well. The most vulnerable are online gamers. - GB Advisors
  • 64% of ransomware attackers launder their illicit funds through cryptocurrency exchanges- Chainalysis
  • Ransomware damage costs are predicted to grow more than 57X from 2015 to 2021 to reach $20 billion by 2021 – CyberCrime Magazine
  • Data hijacking will affect a company every 11 seconds starting in 2021 – Forbes

How to prevent ransomware?

Cyber hygiene is essential to organizations because the threat landscape is constantly evolving, and the attacks are increasing in complexity. Companies should regularly back up all their user data stored on company-provided and employee-owned systems.

Elemental steps to remain protected:

  • Make sure your IT and end users follow best cybersecurity practices.
  • Keep your operating system patched and up to date to ensure you have fewer vulnerabilities to be exploited.
  • Turn firewalls on.
  • Keep security software updated.
  • Do not install software or give it administrative privileges unless you know exactly what it is and what it does.
  • Install antivirus software which detects malicious programs like ransomware as they arrive.
  • Whitelist software, which prevents unauthorized application from executing in the first place.
  • Back up your files, frequently and automatically! That will not stop a malware attack, but it can make the damage caused by one much less significant.
  • Combine complete digital security systems and platforms that respond and adapt to your needs.
  • Avoid suspicious websites and be alert when opening email messages from unknown and questionable addresses.
  • Do not pay the ransom. Although this might sound like the easiest way out, you will never be certain that your information was not copied or distributed already. In fact, according to the U.S. Dept of Treasury, paying ransom is now illegal.

It is important that companies use sophisticated security measures to protect their computers from such attacks.

Unfortunately, these types of attacks proliferate over time. Companies must work to educate their employees on cybersecurity and although it is true that companies cannot prevent them from downloading material with ransomware a hundred percent, it is also true that having good cybersecurity awareness programs can go a long way to prevent these types of situations and big damages to occur.

It is critical for companies to consider the dangers they are exposed to in order to avoid the consequences of a ransomware attack: data loss, long periods of inactivity, compromised sensitive files, etc. Do not fall victim to a ransomware attack, protect your data, get advice, and train your staff on the proper handling of information. At THETA432, we are committed to looking out for your interests and preventing cyberthreats such as ransomware from affecting your company's productivity and reputation.

When disaster strikes, THETA432 DRX provides your employees with a backup point of their data. All employee data work product will be kept in their own vault to prevent it from becoming encrypted from ransomware. In the unfortunate event a computer becomes encrypted, we can recover work product and have your users up and running in no time. DRX is a chosen feature in conjunction with training as an insurance policy, should your employees click on ransom phishing emails.

Avoid ransomware with us today, get started!

Sources:

  • TechRepublic (2020). Ransomware reality check: All IT departments need a security plan, starting with a strong data backup policy. Retrieved from https://www.techrepublic.com/article/ransomware-reality-check-all-it-departments-need-a-security-plan-starting-with-a-strong-data-backup-policy/
  • Fruhlinger, J. (2020). Ransomware explained: How it works and how to remove it. Retrieved from csoonline.com/article/3236183/what-is-ransomware-how-it-works-and-how-to-remove-it.html
  • Weeks, R. (2020). How to protect against ransomware in 2020.  Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2020/03/18/how-to-protect-against-ransomware-in-2020/?sh=6b12b8bd3417s

Authored by
Jorge Daniel Tejeda