Learn how you can stay protected from this prevalent type of cyberattack
What is Ransomware?
Ransomware is a form of malware that encrypts files on a device, rendering them unusable until a ransom, usually in bitcoin or other online currency, is paid. Once you pay, the ransomware group will either send you the key to decrypt your files, or disappear with both the files and your money.
If a ransomware group wants to be taken seriously, it will send the key. Ransomware groups operate like businesses, and they want to have a “good reputation” among their victims for giving data back. Some even have customer support numbers you can call that will walk you through how to pay and to ensure you get your files back.
Think about this … if a threat actor group is charging ransoms but other businesses haven’t gotten their files back from them after paying, why would your business take the risk to pay them? You’d just become another victim in a long line of others before you.
However, some groups are just in it for the money, and will disband/rebrand as another group to maintain anonymity and keep authorities guessing.
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Who is a target for Ransomware?
According to DataBreachToday, companies in the US with revenue of over $100 million, with employees accessing their network via VPN or remote desktop protocol credentials are the prime candidates for a ransomware attack. This is because they have the data attackers want—and the revenue to pay a ransom.
During the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, healthcare organizations faced an increasing amount of attacks because their employees were facing new stresses every day. Preying on employees when they are at their most vulnerable is a despicable act, but one that was lucrative for cybercriminals. In 2020, 560 healthcare organizations were victims of ransomware attacks, the report said. Ransomware attacks cost healthcare organizations $20.8 billion in downtime in 2020, double the amount it cost in 2019.
However, even if your organization isn’t in a highly-targeted industry, or doesn’t fit the above profile, it doesn’t mean you’ll be left alone. In fact, if you are a smaller business, attackers assume you don’t have the proper defenses in place to stop their malware.
Business owner turns to Binary Defense after ransomware breach
How does Ransomware Work?
The main methods that criminal actors use to deploy ransomware onto organizations’ networks include:
1. Phishing. Phishing is when a scammer sends an email that convinces the recipient to click a malicious link or attachment. Once the malicious file is clicked, it installs ransomware on the victim’s computer, locking down critical files.
2. Vulnerabilities on the network. Threat actors can simply find a way into the network without having to trick someone.
Once the files are encrypted, the victim will receive instructions on where to send the cryptocurrency payment to receive the mathematical key to unlock their files.
How to Protect Against Ransomware
If you don’t have the budget for a full security suite, at least get “the basics” completed. All organizations should be able to have at least a basic level of safeguards in place.
First, make sure you are installing security patches when they are released. Don’t wait a week or two, when you get around to it. Threat actors are looking for unpatched software to exploit, as it becomes a perfect avenue to get into your network and start wreaking havoc.
Back up your data daily. Creating backups is an arduous task, but if you have current backups of your files, then you won’t need to pay a ransom should you be hit with a ransomware attack. A pro tip: don’t name your backup files “BACKUP” because attackers are smart enough to look for these file names and will target them.
Employee education can go a long way toward keeping your organization protected. Conduct regular security awareness trainings and phishing tests so employees know what a suspicious email looks like.
Work with a managed security services provider that offers 24/7 monitoring. Gain enterprise-level protection without having to hire the talent yourself, and rest assured that you have security experts watching over your network, day and night.
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