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Ransomware: what is it, and why should your organization be concerned?

Businesses of all sizes can be a target for ransomware attacks. Small business owners might think a hacker will ignore their organization in favor of a larger company with more data. In fact, small businesses are the low-hanging fruit of cybercriminals everywhere. This is partly because small-to-medium business owners think “it won’t ever happen to me.”

But all it takes is one click from an employee on an infected link, and a hacker can access your network. Whether this comes from a phishing email or through another vulnerability in your system, you can quickly go from feeling like “it won’t ever happen to me” to “OK, it’s happened—now what do I do?”

The problem is so prevalent that the Federal Bureau of Investigation recently issued a Public Service Announcement regarding the increasing attacks.

What is ransomware?

Ransomware is a type of hacking attack wherein a company’s data is “held hostage” by hackers after they have successfully breached your systems. This can effectively shut down a small business until the data is recovered (in some cases, the data is gone forever, even if the ransom is paid). Many times the hackers will demand Bitcoin or another form of cryptocurrency in return for the stolen data, making it extremely hard to trace.