Ransomware attacks have long been a problem for many businesses. From 2012 to 2016, CryptoLocker and CryptoWall quietly spread across hard drives and network drives across the globe. In 2017, the WannaCry ransomware crippled businesses of all sizes, causing $4 billion in losses globally. And 2020 saw a surge in malware, ransomware, and botnet attacks, as cybercriminals took advantage of the pandemic to victimize unsuspecting individuals and organizations.
Should you worry about ransomware attacks in 2021?
Yes. Despite the rise of other cyberattacks like cryptojacking and supply chain attacks, ransomware attacks show no signs of slowing down. In fact, between April and May 2020, there were an average of 20,000 to 30,000 ransomware attacks per day in the US alone. What’s more, the average ransom paid by organizations across North America and Europe to unlock their files and networks rose from $115,123 in 2019 to $312,493 in 2020, a 171% increase.
But while most ransomware attacks in 2020 were directed at large enterprises, small businesses were also targeted. According to data protection firm Infrascale, 46% of small businesses were targeted with a ransomware attack in 2020. For instance, a small business in Kentucky paid a ransom of $150,000 after all of their computers were infected with ransomware.
Despite the rise of other cyberattacks like cryptojacking and supply chain attacks, ransomware attacks show no signs of slowing down.
Why are ransomware attacks still effective today?
Ransomware attacks remain effective because many small and medium businesses don't have the proper security measures to protect their systems.
Cybercriminals are also resorting to threatening to publish victims’ confidential data online. This pushes victims to pay the ransom and makes it difficult for them to simply restore their data from an offline or cloud backup.
Ransomware codes are also easily obtainable on the black market, making it easy for anyone to launch their own ransomware variant. In a business model known as Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS), a cybercriminal can get resources to execute an attack from a ransomware developer. The former then modifies the code to avoid detection by security software. According to cybersecurity company Group-IB, almost two-thirds of ransomware attacks in 2020 were launched using the RaaS model.
Should you pay the ransom?
Do not pay the ransom. While some cybercriminals may provide a decryption key that unlocks their victims’ files, others may just pocket the money or demand more payment. Paying the ransom also serves to fund future cyberattacks.
How to protect your business from ransomware attacks
To mitigate the chances of a ransomware attack, try the following best practices:
1. Install security software
Having an antivirus software may not be enough. It's best to implement multiple security layers, as doing so protects your business better from malware and other cyberthreats. Install other applications such as anti-malware software and intrusion detection systems to provide your organization with a stronger level of defense against threats.
2. Update your IT infrastructure
Ransomware can infect your systems through software vulnerabilities, so software developers are constantly pushing out updates and security patches. Regularly update all of your applications, security programs, and operating system. These patches will close holes that hackers can exploit and reduce the number of security breaches.
3. Back up data in places other than your computers
Many ransomware variants can render computers inoperable, making restoration from an internal backup difficult. To mitigate data loss, back up your data on external storage systems like memory cards, flash drives, and external hard drives. Because these are disconnected from your computers, they cannot be infected with ransomware.
You can also store your files in the cloud. Many cloud solutions have versioning capabilities that simplify the rollback of encrypted files to their original versions. Some also include features that look for ransomware activity and contain the malware to keep data safe.
4. Educate your employees
Your employees are vulnerable to ransomware attacks, so take the time to educate them on the subject. Teach them the best ways to protect themselves from ransomware attacks like refraining from opening unsolicited emails, staying away from suspicious websites, and not downloading potentially malicious files.
5. Partner with USWired
Your business might not have enough resources to defend itself from ransomware attacks, so partner with a reliable managed IT service provider like USWired. We will act as your remote IT team, protecting your systems from ransomware and other malware attacks so you can have peace of mind and focus on growing your business.
Your business needs the best protection from all cyberthreats, not just ransomware. Trust USWired to handle all your cybersecurity needs! Our team of professional experts will devise a comprehensive security plan that will secure all aspects of your IT infrastructure 24/7/365. To learn more about the most important business cybersecurity solutions, download our FREE eBook today.