Ransomware looms as a threat that can disrupt daily operations and cause millions in damage with one innocent click. Beginning a digital transformation allows your business to stay on top of these threats and prevent them from affecting your business.
The FBI received a record number of cyber crime reports in 2020 - nearly 800,000 incidents resulting in over 4.1 billion dollars worth of losses. Ransomware attacks alone rose 20% between 2021 and 2020. Malicious actors have targeted industries from governments, health care organizations, and schools, meaning no one is exempt from the threat.
As businesses become increasingly sophisticated in their use of technology, so do cybersecurity threats. Ransomware, in particular, is rampant. The larger and more intricate the organization, the more data it has to protect, in addition to attending to a larger network of vulnerabilities. In the past, ransomware attacks were limited to organizations with outdated software, which the malware would expose and exploit. The situation is rapidly changing.
Malware has now evolved to attack even well-protected and updated systems, even targeting cloud services and their providers. Since these providers hold the information for multiple businesses, the war against malware is now in the common interest, as the mistake of one person can now affect thousands of people.
No person, business, or industry is immune to ransomware attacks, as the high profile attacks on SolarWinds and the City of Tulsa have proven. Since one successful ransomware attempt can mean a million-dollar payday for a bad actor, they’ll continue to update their tactics and try to expose any system vulnerabilities. Sound like a digital arms race? That’s exactly what it is.
As companies implement digital transformation in their organizations, bad actors adapt to take advantage of their advances. Ransomware is a continuous threat, so vigilance is the best way to protect yourself and your business. Digital transformation helps businesses evolve with technology and prepare for the future, greatly increasing your organization’s chances for seamless operations.
Ransomware is a type of malicious software (better known as malware) that encrypts files on your hardware, rendering them useless. The bad actors who designed the malware then demand a ransom to decrypt your files so you can access them again.
Ransomware can be downloaded unwittingly onto devices by clicking links, opening attachments, or visiting websites embedded with malware. Bad actors cleverly disguise malware, making it difficult to discern the difference between a legitimate link and a suspicious one.
Once the malware has been downloaded onto your computer, it will lock some combination of your data, files, and computer, depending on the code. Sophisticated malware can even encrypt files on local drives, external devices, and network computers.
Malware is designed to spread from the infected device to the network, servers, and even cloud data, and to paralyze your entire organization. Everything infected with the malware will be rendered useless until the files are decrypted, usually after the ransom demand has been met.
Your data is the most valuable thing your business has, and a ransomware attack holds that data hostage.
A ransomware attack can cause temporary or permanent loss of data, a shutdown of your operations, and a financial loss beyond the ransom itself. Paying the ransom doesn’t guarantee you’ll get everything back as it once was. Your files and hardware could be permanently damaged or destroyed.
Ransomware attacks cause expensive disruptions to your business operations and can ruin files, data, and information even when you pay up. Even an unsuccessful attempt can be a costly headache for your business.
Victims of ransomware attacks describe the experience as a waking nightmare where they helplessly watch the hard work of their business ripped from their control. They often face scrutiny for not doing a better job of protecting sensitive data at risk of exposure.
There is no single solution to preventing a ransomware attack at your business. A customized, multi-layered, ever-evolving, and proactive approach must be implemented, maintained, and regularly reassessed to ensure the highest level of protection for your company’s data and systems.
Integrating ransomware prevention into your digital transformation will help you stay up to date on the most relevant cybersecurity threats. The best methods to contend with the reality of ransomware include a combination of:
- Training an informed user base
- Installing regular updates
- Developing a thorough response in case of an incident
- Maintaining backups
- Protecting endpoints and port settings
Vigorous training and frequent reminders to your employees should keep the dangers of downloads and suspicious links fresh in their minds. Since malware is constantly evolving, your IT team should keep up with the latest developments to share with your employees.
Bad actors will spam links with malware downloads, hoping for the one click that can lead to a hefty payout. For your business, it only takes one of your employees to take the bait to disrupt operations and cost the organization tons of money and data. Employees should be aware of the dangers and trained to carefully and thoughtfully scan emails for suspicious content.
Passwords on their own remain insufficient to protect accounts within your business. Adding multi-factor authentication (MFA) will enhance the security of your accounts but cannot provide a singular defense on its own.
Operating systems, software, and applications should be frequently updated. Updates and patches are often added once new malware codes are discovered, so having your devices regularly scanned for new content will provide the best defense.
Antivirus and antimalware software must be installed on all of your business’s devices and set to regularly scan for suspicious downloads. You can also restrict your employees from downloading software onto their computer without administrative permission, lowering the risk of damage from an accidental click.
Data should be regularly backed up and secured on all devices. This ensures your data is up to date and accessible should malware make its way onto a network device.
You should also have a plan in case a ransomware attack should happen. All members of the team should have specific roles, including disconnecting computers to protect the network, contacting authorities, and initiating a pre-planned response.
The threat of ransomware is a good example of why you should begin a digital transformation sooner rather than later. With ransomware attacks targeting individuals and entire industries, everyone should be aware and intentional with their internet use.
At Vudu, we are technology wizards who want to bring IT magic to your business and achieve supernatural results. Want to protect your business from ransomware? Tell us more about your goals.