Over the years, ransomware seems to have gained a reputation as one of the biggest threats to businesses and their employees. Compared to phishing campaigns or distributed denial of service attacks, ransomware strikes fear that the other attacks cannot into their victims or potential victims. The effect of ransomware goes farther than just the technology of the company. It can ruin the trust of the customers, diminish the reputation, and leave a sense of embarrassment for falling victim to ransomware.
The thing about ransomware is that it can affect a business of any size and any industry. A ransomware attack also goes through different stages before encrypting any files. Typically, the first phase involves an attempt to gain access to a network, often through a phishing campaign. Once an attacker gains access, they shift to an information-gathering phase, sifting through any assets and vulnerabilities. Then, when attackers feel they have enough of a foothold on the network, they start encrypting all the files they can, making them inaccessible to the victim.
As the name suggests, once the files are all encrypted, they are then held for ransom. The perpetrators will put pressure on their victims to pay a large sum of money to get their files unencrypted or else have them destroyed or released online. When hit with ransomware, organizations typically want two things: to get their data back as quickly as possible and to avoid alerting the public of the attack. Hackers will prey on this desperation, and as a result, companies often just pay the ransom. This is an issue because paying the criminals only incentivizes them to continue targeting others.
In 2019 there were just under 200 million ransomware cases reported. However, that number is thought to be higher since many companies will just pay the ransom instead of reporting it. Paying the ransom may or may not restore an organization’s data but it will definitely encourage attackers to keep coming back for more. Whether or not to pay is often an extremely difficult decision for organizations to make. That’s why If we really want to reduce the threat of ransomware, we have to stop it at its source.
The majority of ransomware attacks begin through either phishing emails or other attack vectors such as weak passwords, faulty asset management, poor user practices, and malicious websites. To reduce the likelihood of experiencing a devastating attack like ransomware, there are certain steps an organization should take:
- Train – Employees are more likely to fall for a phishing scam when they don’t know what to look out for. All it takes is one wrong click – and BAM – your whole network is infected with ransomware. Empower users with the knowledge to make security-conscious decisions that keep them and your organization safe.
- Update – Ensuring that all devices and software are up to date is critical in avoiding a cyberattack. Unpatched assets can leave holes in your network, allowing hackers to slip right through. Implement a regular patching schedule or set automatic updates to ON.
- Monitor - Monitoring your systems for changes is incredibly important to track if your security patches have been applied. Capturing logs from those systems can also help you track down abnormalities when you're trying to chase down a security incident. Monitoring your systems for availability will make both users’ and administrators' lives easier because it allows them to get in front of problems before they can do any damage.
Having an educated and monitored business is the most effective way to reduce the risk of a ransomware attack and keep it as secure as possible. If you aren’t regularly implementing these items through your cybersecurity maturity program, or worse, you don’t even have a cybersecurity maturity program, you’re essentially leaving the door open for cybercriminals. Protect the business you’ve worked so hard for and the employees who help you maintain it by making cybersecurity a priority.
Learn how TechGuard can help you implement a custom cybersecurity maturity program that fits your needs.