Can Ransomware Be Stopped In The San Francisco Bay Area?
With cybersecurity threats, one statement always holds; it’s not a question of IF, but WHEN your business may be attacked. Yet, for some organizations, such cyber threats as ransomware, malware phishing, business email compromise, etc., remain a non-issue – a huge mistake!
The fact is, any business, large or small alike, faces a significant risk of cyberattack in the present world, with the threat actors devising more sophisticated and aggressive techniques every day. For this blog, we’ll focus solely on ransomware attacks. But before we take a deeper dive into what it entails and how your business can act proactively to stay immune from ransomware criminals, here are some mind-blowing stats and facts reflecting the severity of the attack:
- 71% of ransomware attacks target small businesses
- 2020 saw 304 million ransomware attacks worldwide
- In 2020, 68% of U.S. organizations admitted to having experienced a ransomware attack and consequently paid a ransom
- In 2020, the total amount of ransom paid to ransomware attacks reached nearly $350 million worth of cryptocurrency, a 311% rise from 2019
- CryptoWall, CryptoLocker, and WannaCry were the most commonly experienced ransomware strains
- Up to 85% of ransomware attacks target Windows users
- The cost of ransomware attacks is expected to clock nearly $8 billion by 2025
Ransomware Overview: What is it, and how does it occur?
Simply put, ransomware is a program that cyber threat actors use to hold an organization’s digital information hostage until a ransom is paid. Usually, the threat actors block the victim from accessing their computer system or threaten to publish their confidential data unless a hefty sum of money is paid.
So, how do hackers manage to deploy ransomware into an organization’s system, and why is the attack so effective? Well, ransomware attackers usually bank on two popular ways:
- Sending phishing emails attached with a malicious link to an organization’s employees
- Hacking into the victim’s unsecured network connection
After a successful intrusion into your system, the threat actor encrypts all your files to prevent access. They then demand a hefty ransom in exchange for a decryption key for the files held hostage. At this point, your organization can decide to oblige and pay the ransom to regain access to your files, try to recover the data without paying any amount, or enter a negotiation with the ransomware attackers.
The negotiations usually take place on a chatroom in the dark web, only accessible via a unique identifier attached to the digital ransom note. If the ransomware victim decides to pay the demanded ransom after negotiations, most hackers demand that the payment be made in cryptocurrency, with bitcoin being the most preferred crypto.
In fact, the first quarter of 2019 saw 98% of all ransom payments made via Bitcoin. But that may change now that the U.S. government managed to recover $2.3 million worth of bitcoins paid to hacker group DarkSide following the Colonial Pipeline attack. Anyway, once the victim makes the required payment, the criminals keep their end of the bargain by sending a decryption key needed to regain access into the system.
Top 5 Tips to Protect Your Organization from Ransomware Attacks
Ransomware attacks impact almost every sector of the world economy, with manufacturing, public service, and manufacturing services being the hardest hit industries in 2020. Other sectors like healthcare, finance, legal, and technology have also proven to be hot spots for ransomware attackers. Even worse, ransomware has grown sophisticated enough to target government entities and critical infrastructure in recent years, causing costly shutdowns.
The point is, no entity, private or public, is immune from ransomware attacks. As such, the only way to avoid falling prey to the unforgiving threat actors is to take proactive and continuous security measures to keep your organization’s sensitive files and systems safe throughout. Below are the top five strategies to protect your business from ransomware:
Apply the Latest Updates and Security Patches
Software updates and patches are incredibly critical to your organization’s digital safety and cybersecurity. Unfortunately, most attacks occur by cybercriminals taking advantage of security loopholes provided by outdated software and unsecured networks.
Thankfully, developers often provide regular updates to fix or remove discovered bugs and add new features to fortify security. So make a habit of checking out for and applying these security updates and patches. And while at it, you also want to ensure your operating system is running the latest version.
Adopt Multi-Factor Authentication
Does your organization have a second security layer for its accounts besides passwords? If NO, you need to enable multi-factor authentication (MFA); most ransomware attacks happen by cybercriminals cracking static passwords to gain access to a company’s system hassle-free. If you’re wondering, MFA is a security protocol requiring users to present two or more pieces of evidence, say a password and a code, before they can access an account, website, or application.
By enabling MFA on accounts across all networks, your organization can outsmart ransomware hackers by requiring additional verification. That means even if a threat actor manages to hijack your password, they won’t be able to provide biometric data, passcode, or answer the security question needed to prove identity.
Regular Data Backups is a Must
Backing up your data ensures that you can resume operations almost immediately following a cybersecurity incident. That’s because backup systems store duplicates of your company’s data in a separate and secure location so that when the original dataset gets compromised, you can effortlessly retrieve the copy and carry on with operations.
But it’s not enough to back up your data; you want to make a habit of testing the backups regularly to ensure they work as expected. You also want to test your ability to recover data and systems so that you’re always prepared for a worst-case scenario.
Conduct Awareness Training
Did you know that human errors are the primary cause of up to 95% of cybersecurity breaches? Put otherwise, for every 20 cyberattacks, 19 of them are due to human mistakes. That’s a pretty shameful stat, considering that most of these errors can be avoided through security awareness training.
The best way to undertake your employees through SAT is to partner with a reliable cybersecurity services firm to shed more light on:
- What ransomware is
- How it can infect your systems
- How to respond to a suspected ransomware attack
- How to optimize business technology without exposing valuable data and assets to ransomware attacks
- How to detect and handle a ransomware attempt
Consider Cybersecurity Insurance
There’s no denying it; ransomware attacks are overly expensive, and without adequate financial preparedness, your business may struggle to reopen after an incident. Luckily, cyber insurance lifts a considerable chunk of the financial burden off your shoulders by providing incident response assistance and compensating you for the financial losses incurred following a successful cyberattack.
So if your organization hasn’t purchased the coverage, you should 100% consider going for it, as it can come in handy at the hour of your most need!
V&C Solutions is Here to Help! Your San Francisco Bay Area Ransomware Experts
Are you a small or midsize business in the San Francisco Bay area in the market for the most reliable cybersecurity services? If the answer is YES, V&C Solutions has got you covered! We’re a team of highly experienced and competent IT and cybersecurity services experts dedicated to helping SMBs realize their growth goals while overcoming IT and cybersecurity challenges like ransomware attacks.
So reach out to V&C Solutions to talk about the importance of protecting your business from ransomware attacks and pick our brains on what you need to do to protect your organization!