In recent years, ransomware attacks have become a major threat to businesses of all sizes and industries. These attacks involve the malicious encryption of a company's data, with the attacker demanding payment in exchange for the decryption key. Such attacks can have devastating consequences, including the loss of sensitive information, operational downtime, and reputational damage, to name a few.
Ransomware attacks will continue to evolve and become more sophisticated, which is why it's more important than ever for your business to understand how to properly handle them. In this blog, we will discuss some key strategies to help your business effectively respond to and prevent ransomware attacks.
Some alarming statistics on ransomware attacks
From huge increases in the number of attacks to the growing impact of ransomware, here are some alarming statistics that highlight the severity of ransomware issues:
- Per Sophos's The State of Ransomware 2022, in 2021, ransomware impacted 66% of organizations, which is a 78% increase from 2020.
- According to a report by cybersecurity firm SonicWall, there were over 304 million attempted ransomware attacks in 2020, a 62% increase from the previous year.
- Average ransom payments are increasing: According to Unit 42 incident responders, ransomware payments soared to nearly $1 million in the first five months of 2022, representing a 71% growth from the previous year. The high total does not include extra costs incurred by victims such as cleanup expenses and lost revenue due to downtime.
- In a joint report from the FBI, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, and other agencies in 2022, it was revealed that healthcare ransomware attacks had risen dramatically. This troubling trend continued for months; April 2023 saw an unprecedented 37 instances of attack — far higher than any previously recorded period this year. The security breach posed severe issues to healthcare delivery across many organizations worldwide.
- The education sector has also been targeted heavily, with a report by Emsisoft revealing that the number of ransomware incidents in the sector has remained consistent from 2019 to 2022.
These statistics highlight the growing threat of ransomware attacks to businesses of all sizes and industries. It’s imperative that your business take proactive steps to protect your critical data and networks against these attacks.
How should a company handle a ransomware attack?
Here are steps that your company can take to handle a ransomware attack:
- Isolate infected systems: Ransomware is designed to spread rapidly across a network, infecting as many systems as possible and encrypting data. By isolating infected systems, you can prevent the ransomware from spreading further and potentially infecting other parts of the network. This can limit the damage caused by the attack and make it easier to identify and contain the malware.
- Assess the situation: Determine the extent of the attack and identify the type of ransomware that has been deployed. This will help determine how you should respond.
- Contact law enforcement: It's important to notify law enforcement immediately so that they can investigate the attack and help with the recovery process.
- Don’t pay the ransom: It may seem like paying the ransom is the key to regaining access to your encrypted data, but you should avoid doing this as much as possible. There is no guarantee that the attacker will provide the decryption key even if you pay the ransom. In fact, paying might encourage them to launch more attacks in the future.
- Restore from backups: If your company has regular data backups, restoring those backups may be the best option. This can allow you to recover the data without paying the ransom.
- Consider professional help: If your company does not have the necessary expertise to handle the attack, it may be necessary to seek professional help from a cybersecurity firm or IT consultant like USWired who can offer comprehensive security plans that will fortify your defenses against ransomware and other cyberthreats.
- Implement security measures: To avoid similar attacks in the future, it's essential to put preventative measures in place. This may include creating regular backups, segmenting networks, and educating employees on ways to recognize potential phishing schemes.
Get ahead of the game in combatting cybercrimes like ransomware attacks and in protecting your business. Explore best practices for boosting cybersecurity and reclaiming peace of mind by reading our free eBook, Cybercrime Defense Game Plan.