Ransomware remains the most common cyber threat according to a recent global survey of more than 1,400 MSP decision makers that manage IT systems for small-to-medium-sized businesses (SMBs).
We’ve put together some helpful information so you can better understand this cybercrime and how you can protect your business from ransomware attacks.
What is Ransomware?
Ransomware is type of malware that threatens to publish or destroy a victim’s data, or perpetually block access to it until a specified ransom is paid.
Almost always, ransomware relies on a victim clicking on a malicious link or attachment sent via email. It is also possible for cybercriminals to manipulate security holes and inject malware into a network without human interaction, but this is rare.
How Ransomware Works
Simple ransomware may lock a system in a way in which a technically knowledgeable person can reverse, however, more advanced malware uses a technique called ‘cryptoviral extortion’, in which it encrypts the victim’s files, making them inaccessible, and demands a ransom payment to decrypt them.
Ransomware attacks are typically carried out using a Trojan that is disguised as a legitimate file that the user is tricked into downloading or opening when it arrives as an email attachment.
Growth of Ransomware
Ransomware scams have grown exponentially in recently years, with over 181 million ransomware attacks worldwide in the first 6 months of 2018.
Unlike traditional data breaches that result in stolen information, ransomware is used to ‘lock’ crucial systems, which means most organisations will pay the ransom to have their system/s restored.
Earlier this year, Gillian Franklin, the founder of Australian cosmetics business The Heat Group, logged on to her business to discover all online documents and files were missing and were replaced by a ransom note demanding payment of the equivalent of $40,000 in Bitcoin.
Within one week the Heat Group was back online but Ms Franklin estimates the cyber attack cost the business $2 million.
In October 2019, a ransomware attack on the Victorian Government by ‘sophisticated cyber criminals’ forced some of the state’s major regional hospitals to go offline.
How to Avoid Ransomware Attacks
Be Aware and Alert
Educate your employees so they are aware of what a phishing attack may look like. Obvious signs are poor grammar, incorrect spelling, and threatening language such as an account suspension message. More sophisticated attacks use techniques such as sending an unpaid invoice, which an unsuspecting person may be more likely to open.
Although ransomware rarely spreads as a result of system vulnerabilities, outdated systems are always vulnerable to attack. Back up your data, implement 2-step authentication, conduct security patches, and auto-enable updates on all devices.
Implement Offline Backups
Consider storing a backup offline that can’t be impacted by a ransomware attack.
Seek Expert Advice
Alarmingly, according to the research firm Security InDepth, Australian Businesses are completely unprepared for cyber hacks.
Another survey report found that one in four Australian businesses do not have an incident response plan to deal with cyber attacks when they happen.
Contact Surety IT today to discuss the development of your business cyber security strategy. We’ll work with you to understand what information you have, where it is and who has access to it, and help you plan a cyber security strategy that is easy to understand, scalable, flexible and educational.