What is a ransomware attack, why is it so effective and how do we put a stop to it?
Ransomware is one of the most common and harmful types of cyber attacks that many businesses around the world are currently fighting against. Ransomware attacks target all scale businesses, ranging from small-sized teams to large enterprises and government organisations.
What is so unique about ransomware attacks is that they come in the form of malware that when it is downloaded to a device, it will block or delete all data until a form of ransom is made. In 2020, research suggested that every 14 seconds a ransomware attack would hit a new organisation (ExpertInsights, 2022). It wouldn’t be improbable to believe that this will only increase with each year ahead. Ransomware attacks have a high probability of causing irreversible damage to IT infrastructures that can be detrimental to all businesses of all sizes.
How do ransomware attacks work?
As previously mentioned, ransomware attacks are not effective and damaging when they are downloaded onto the end-point device i.e. mobile, computer or laptop. They commonly come in the form of a ‘phishing attack’. This method involves sending an email to the target user, quite often impersonating someone that they regularly are in contact with and attaching a disguised malicious software in the form of an attachment or link to trick the user into opening it which will automatically install the malware to their device.
When the malicious software has been activated, it works very quickly leaving little room to stop it from spreading and infecting your device. What will start to happen is the malicious software will search for all files and data on the device and encrypt it and anything that cannot be encrypted will likely be deleted. Also, it is important to know that any external hard drives or USBs that are plugged into the device during a ransomware attack will also be infected.
Quite often with this type of cyber attack, you will have the option to make a payment, typically in the form of bitcoin as it is difficult to trace, in exchange for your files or to remove the malware.
Why are ransomware attacks so effective?
Ransomware attacks are very common because of how effective they are causing serious damage to businesses leaving them with large financial and productivity losses. For most organisations, data is the most important part of a business and is critical in order to smoothly run the business. Therefore leaving many no choice but to pay the ransom, despite strongly recommending not to. Research suggests that hackers generate over $25 million from ransomware attacks each year.
The most common reasons why ransomware attacks are so successful:
- Human error
- Lack of training on recognising phishing emails
- Lack of technological defences
- No data backups
- Out of date IT softwares and procedures
Here’s how to stop ransomware from affecting your business
Use a strong and reliable anti-virus defence
An antivirus software will immediately block any malware from attempting to infect your device. These softwares will also notify you if any devices have become compromised and install any security updates needed to protect your systems from ransomware attacks.
Use email security
The most common type of ransomware attack infiltrates devices in the form of an email, which is why email security is so crucial to prevent ransomware from compromising your data. Reliable and accredited email security technologies will scan and filter your email communications and block any threats from being delivered to your inboxes.
Employee cyber security training
Your employees tend to be the biggest cyber security risk within your organisation. Over recent years, we have seen a surge in business investments in security awareness training programs that teach users about the risks they may face when working in the office or from home and how to recognise and avoid these potential threats.
These training programs also tend to provide phishing simulations to test how effectively your employees can detect a phishing attack and therefore stop the spread of ransomware on your business.
Regular data backups
If the worst case scenario did happen and a ransomware attack successfully compromised your data, one of the most efficient ways to protect your organisation is to restore all of your data with minimal downtime and disruption. This can easily be done by retrieving backed up data.
The best practice is to create regular copies of your data and store them in multiple places. This ensures that in the event of a ransomware attack, your company data can be quickly accessed and restored meaning that your business will be able to quickly regain the functionality of its systems and IT infrastructure.
We would advise cloud data backup as a way of storing and recovering your data in the event of an unprecedented data breach. Cloud storage can be accessed at any time, anywhere and easily integrates with devices.
By following the outlined steps on how to avoid ransomware attacks on your business, you are making the right steps in protecting your business against cyber attacks and data breaches. If you have any questions or want to know more about keeping your business safe against ransomware attacks, visit our page here to learn more.