Ransomware, a form of malware, works by encrypting files on an infected system, threatening to erase the data, or blocking access to the system. Once a device’s files are encrypted, the cyber threat actor (CTA) typically offers a ransom amount with contact information on the victim’s screen. CTAs are any state, group, or individual, whose intent is to maliciously exploit cyber vulnerabilities, those executing such cyber-attacks. The respective files are offered in exchange for payment of the ransom, however, restored access to all the files and information is not guaranteed. Individuals, businesses, educational institutions, and government agencies are all at risk of falling victim to ransomware – leaving no person or group impassible. Malware remediation is not one-size-fits-all, as different infections require different solutions, none of which will guarantee the safe return of your data.
Ransomware is a growing, expensive issue. These cyber-incidents can result in extensive network downtime, delayed productivity, costly mitigation efforts, and ultimately have a negative impact on customer trust. Cybercrimes have increased exponentially over the last several years, and the coronavirus pandemic itself prompted a 600% increase in malicious email attacks. The average cost for a company to recover from a ransomware attack in 2021 is $1.85 million and is estimated that businesses will fall victim to ransomware attacks every 14 seconds.
To best prevent compromise, your organization should have a thorough cyber-security protocol in place for devices/networks. It is also imperative to provide adequate employee training on cyber-security awareness. Small to medium sized businesses (SMBs) have become an ideal target for attacks because they often lack the resources for cybersecurity protocols and training to prevent such attacks. As ransomware attacks are not 100% preventable, it is necessary that a protocol is in place to limit the impact of infections and data is routinely backed up.
There are several potential vulnerabilities that result in a ransomware attack, including:
- Malicious attachments and links sent through email, known as phishing
- Poorly secured ports or services, resulting in network intrusion
- Other malware infections
- Wormable and other forms of ransomware that explore network vulnerabilities
Immediately paying the ransom is discouraged, as it doesn’t necessarily pay-to-pay. Cybereason reports that 80% of companies who opt to pay the ransom receive another attack soon thereafter. Additionally, remediation efforts are not always successful. The recovered data may be corrupted, file decryption does not mean removal of the malware, and the CTA-provided software for decrypting the files may be slow or ineffective.
Ransom payments are typically demanded in virtual currencies and other cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin, due to their anonymity and difficulty to trace. Cryptocurrency has made it possible to extort organizations, hospitals, and businesses for large ransoms. The United States Treasury has tied nearly $5.2 billion in Bitcoin transactions to ransomware payments.
There are no guaranteed solutions to a successful ransomware attack. If your organization falls victim to an infection, it is important to: identify the impacted systems, isolate them, and consult with your IT department or Managed Services provider about best efforts to resolve the infection.
Awareness is the first and most important preventative step. Our experts at Inventiv have the knowledge and toolkit to develop an optimal cyber-security protocol to protect your organization’s information. Cyber-security services at Inventiv include security awareness training, cyber-security policies, internet firewall protection, virus protection solutions, secure network access, intrusion detection, and unified threat management. Contact Inventiv today to learn about how we can help prevent ransomware attacks and improve your organization’s security.
Highest Ransomware Payouts of 2021:
- Colonial Pipeline
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