Ransomware attacks are predicted to occur at least once every 40 seconds this 2019. It’s expected to cost industries $11.5 billion in the same year. Just recently, Jackson County, GA was infiltrated by a ransomware infection that cost them $400,000 while Orange County, NC experienced its third ransomware attack in six years.
Ransomware infection is real and it is dangerous. Here’s everything that a business owner should know about them.
What is Ransomware?
As its name implies, ransomware is a type of malware. Malware (a.k.a. malicious software) is an umbrella term for any file or program that has malicious intent and is harmful to a computer and its user.
Cybercriminals use ransomware to hold data as “hostage” and demand ransom from their victims. The process involves gaining unauthorized access to a system or network. Once inside, the ransomware locks authorized users out and prevent them from accessing any data.
The Top 3 Dangers of Ransomware
1. Data loss
Hackers typically use data access as a “bargaining chip” to demand a ransom. They will threaten to destroy or distribute the data so you would be forced to pay. In exchange for the ransom, they will promise to restore your access to the infiltrated system or network by handing out the decryption keys.
However, paying the ransom doesn’t come with a 100% guarantee that these cybercriminals will live up to their word. Meaning, the risk of losing your data will be there the moment you get infected by ransomware – even if you agree to their demands.
2. Hefty ransom costs
While it isn’t generally advised to do so, more individuals, businesses, and government entities are paying the ransom. Majority of them (70 percent) are paying a ransom in secret instead of alerting authorities.
According to Symantec, this trend has resulted in an increased number of ransomware attacks over the last few years. The amount lost to this malware is also increasing. Currently, it averages to $1,077 but for many businesses, the ransom could reach thousands of dollars.
3. Business losses
Even if you don’t pay hackers, the fact they have full control of your data will already cost you in other ways. Here are examples of how ransomware can negatively affect your business:
- Pay for cyberattack investigations
- The potential damage, destruction, or distribution of your data
- Lost time and decreased work productivity
- Spend resources on data restoration efforts
- Compensate customers affected by the breach
- Loss of reputation
It is estimated that businesses lost $8,500 per hour in 2016 and 2017 due to these effects.
Tips for Preventing Ransomware Attacks
Hiring IT specialists who can implement a comprehensive cybersecurity system should be on top of your list. You can hire an in-house team, outsource to professionals, or have both if it suits your needs. Set up preventive measures such as firewalls and data encryption to protect yourself from attacks. But don’t stop there.
Constantly work on improving your security by performing maintenance checks and updating software. Educate employees with the latest cyber threats and data protection strategies. Finally, you need a disaster recovery plan. It provides solutions that will help you recover from data loss and reduce its impact on your business.