Reports suggest that ransomware attacks are rapidly rising across the globe.
It’s not your typical ‘newspaper-clipping ransom’ that attackers are deploying, but the hacking is sophisticated and aggressive, and often uses clever malicious software.
These ransomware attacks against businesses are reported to be four times higher than last year, and when businesses are locked out of their own systems, it’s often cheaper just to pay the ransom and get back up and running.
Time is money: cyber criminals are exploiting this extremely well…
What are ransomware attacks?
Ransomware attacks allow hackers to install malware software onto a computer device which performs a ‘crypto-virology’ attack. This attack affects the computer in a way that payment is demanded to decrypt the malware in order for you to access your files again.
An example could be where the malware installs X-rated viruses on your computer, or encrypts data. This is an ingenious idea that forces businesses to pay the ransom so you can get full access back to your computer, and every minute that passes when you’re locked out of your own PC could be money spiralling down the drain.
Unprecedented rate of attacks
The rate at which ransomware attacks are growing is worryingly fast. Ori Elsen, the founder of a fraud prevention company, comments that it’s most prevalent in the U.K. with a figure of 54% of businesses being targeted by this type of attack.
On the whole, cyber attackers are more focused on financial institutions. The Beazley Breach Insights report a 13% increase of ransomware attacks from 2015 to 2016. For healthcare providers, ransomware is still evident, but the figure is a lot lower with only 19% subject to these sorts of attacks.
It’s said that human error presents the biggest risk in the healthcare industry when these attacks happen.
Value of ransom attacks
Although ransoms may be as low as £1,000, companies and organisations face other expensive consequences.
The costs of reviewing security systems, initiating investigations, resolving attacks professionally, ensuring no trace of the malware remains, and the loss of business can cost the company more than the ransom itself. Security firm Malwarebytes surveyed 500 companies across four countries and found that a third of businesses lost revenue directly caused by such an attack.
On the other hand, ransoms can be enormous. The Guardian reports that one-fifth of British companies who had been a victim of the attack were charged more than £8,000 to unlock their data. This serves as an important reminder that companies and organisations, whether they are small or large, must have preventative methods and high-security to fend off attackers.
The clever business model
One of the scarier aspects of how cyber criminals work is that some operate just like a real business.
Ransoms are often set at affordable levels – i.e. they have a “pricing structure” reflective of their targeted “consumer” – to make sure that businesses can pay, and make sure that it could be cheaper to just pay rather than keep losing business from being locked out of a system.
On top of that, money earned from ransoms is often reinvested in to making the viruses better – i.e. innovation!
Aside from the fact that it’s all illegal and immoral, these cyber criminals are running their operations like legitimate businesses, which is evidently helping them to become better, and more profitable.
How businesses can protect themselves
Norton virus protection suggests the best way businesses can protect themselves from this kind of attack is through:
- Using reputable antivirus software and firewalls to ensure security software is always up to date;
- Back up files often using a hard drive or an online system. This is so that if you are a victim of an attack you may be able to install new software;
- Enable a popup blocker which can help to ensure you are less likely to click an infected popup;
- Exercise caution – be wary of clicking suspicious links and emails;
- Disconnect from the internet to ensure that personal data is not relayed back to criminals during an attack;
- Let the authorities know.
Ransom threats are growing worldwide
It’s down to businesses to have adequate prevention methods in place to fend off these aggressive attacks. Although British companies are the leading victims in these ransomware attacks, it has made a significant impact on businesses globally.
IMPORTANT: advice on this page is intended to be up-to-date for the 'first published date'.
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