How Ransomware Negatively Impacts Businesses

how ransomware negatively impacts business ransom price data hostage

Running a business in the 21st century increasingly relies on technology, networks, and connections to facilitate successful operations. With that territory comes various threats, malware, and breaches that can adversely affect the organization. Regardless of existing security procedures, unwelcome threats can still intrude upon your systems. One significant modern threat manifests itself as the exquisite little inconvenience known as ransomware. 

But what is ransomware, anyway? And how can it negatively impact your business? Read on to find out more about ransomware consequences and prevention. 

What Is Ransomware? 

Ransomware is any malicious software that encrypts a user’s data for the sole purpose of getting money from the victim in exchange for the decryption keys. If the attackers don't receive payment, they usually threaten to sell or leak the data, which can be detrimental to any business. 

In recent years, ransomware is gaining steam, getting bolder, and becoming more aggressive. While targets in the past have included businesses and educational institutions, more recent attacks are targeting national and public institutions with increasing frequency. 

How Does Ransomware Work? 

Ransomware often worms its way onto a computer via phishing, spear phishing, drive-by downloads, and other malicious methods. Once the ransomware infects a system, the user's files are encrypted by an attacker. After that, the attacker demands some form of ransom. If the business chooses to pay the ransom, the attacker is supposed to release the decryption key. In practice, however, this is often not the case. 

For that reason (among others), the FBI recommends victims do not pay the ransom. Attackers utilize four different encryption methods when they attack. These are Symmetric encryption (a single key for encryption and decryption), Client-side asymmetric encryption (uses a public encryption key and private decryption key), Server-side asymmetric encryption, and hybrid encryption (a combination of encryption methods). 

How Big Of A Concern Is Ransomware? 

Ransomware is a significant concern for most industries today. Attackers attempt to breach or deploy malware onto a system over 2,000 times per day. That is approximately every 39 seconds! Ransomware attacks in particular occur every 11 seconds. If that weren't bad enough, at least 50% of IT professionals don't believe their organization is equipped to defend against a a ransomware attack. And attacks are costly for companies. Last year alone, ransomware cost businesses over $133,000,000. Windows is more likely to be targeted than other operating systems because it is most common, especially for businesses. 

The worst part is that most ransomware attacks occur through successful phishing attempts and cost a companies an average of $233,000 in ransom. Moving into the future, ransomware is of grave concern for most businesses and industries. Global costs and fallout from successful ransomware attacks are projected to be over $20 billion this year alone. 

How To Protect Your Company From Ransomware

Protecting yourself from ransomware requires investment in robust prevention techniques mixed with a little bit of common sense. The key to guarding yourself from ransomware lies in preparation, prevention, and proactive measures. Always back up the computer or device and store them separately from one another. Train your employees and other members of the organization to recognize potentially dangerous emails or suspicious documents, downloads, and attachments. 

To aid in the prevention of possible malware attacks, always keep your devices up-to-date and install preventative solutions such as antivirus or other powerful protection suites to keep your devices and network as safe as possible. 

Industry leader Trend Micro has some other suggestions on protecting yourself from ransomware attacks, that we highly recommend checking out. These include DNS content filtering and cybersecurity with the power to intelligently quarantine dangerous files. Email filters can also help. Finally, anti-malware software should be monitoring every device at your organization that may become compromised. 

Who Can Be Affected By Ransomware? 

A ransomware attack can happen to anyone or any company anytime, and for any reason. Educational institutions, however, are the organizations most affected by ransomware attacks at the moment. More recently, some hospitals and medical facilities have been hit by ransomware attacks. Ransomware is also targeting metal and mining companies, utility companies, mobile industry, and infrastructure. 

As threats continue to grow and develop, more industries will be put at risk, so it is more important than ever to ensure your organization has a robust security system in place, backs up files regularly, and ensures your team is doing everything they can to prevent a ransomware attack altogether.

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