Guest Article: How to Protect your Business from Ransomware

Guest Article: How to Protect your Business from Ransomware

Ransomware is a type of malicious software that encrypts computer files and systems to prevent users from accessing their data until a payment is made. The costs of ransomware can be catastrophic for a business. And, unfortunately, no one is immune.

The State of Ransomware Today

Ransomware attacks continue to affect both the public and private sectors with no signs of slowing down as more sophisticated ransomware strains emerge. It’s estimated that the cost of ransomware to businesses will top $20 billion in 2021 and that global damages related to cybercrime will reach $6 trillion, according to Cybersecurity Ventures. This cost represents the recovery costs in addition to the ransom itself. The breakdown includes restoration costs, disruption, and loss of productivity, as well as the loss of data, the damage to a company’s reputation, and the loss of customers and client trust.

The Costs Your Company Needs to Know

Data is a company’s most valuable commodity. Hackers know this and will demand a hefty payment in exchange for the encryption key to re-gain access. The ransom payment is usually done in Bitcoin, an untraceable form of cryptocurrency. It is up to a company on whether they want to pay a ransom or not. Some companies may feel that they have adequate backups of their files. Those that don’t, though, may elect to bring on a ransomware specialist to help with the negotiation process.

These recovery specialists can be costly, but companies will do whatever it takes to unlock their data.

Organizations also suffer the costs of downtime during a breach. When breaches occur, it is close to impossible for companies to service their customers and continue operations normally. Downtime costs include the time spent scrambling to obtain the cryptocurrency, the process of executing the transaction with the criminals, and the decryption process itself. This can all equal as many as 16 days of lost productivity according to ransomware recovery specialists Coveware.

Another cost of a ransomware attack is more difficult to quantify: Reputational damage. In this age of transparency, it is difficult to keep an organization’s breach under wraps, no matter how private the victims would like it to be. Reputational damage is real, and no company wants others to know their clients’ personal information has been compromised. Even if a customer’s information is restored, the lack of trust remains. Current and prospective clients may take their business elsewhere as a result of a breach.

Those Who Learned the Hard Way

Clearly, ransomware can devastate a business. We’ve seen it firsthand where some victims came out of a breach okay, while others were not as fortunate.

The aggressive ransomware, RobbinHood, hit the City of Baltimore in May 2019. Essential services – hospitals, factories producing vaccines, and airports – were affected, costing the city more than $18 million. The City of Baltimore recovered from the breach, but the results can be more devastating for private entities. The Heritage Company, an Arkansas-based telemarketing firm, was hit by a ransomware attack in October 2019, losing hundreds of thousands of dollars. The company was forced to let go of 300 employees a few days before Christmas and closed its doors permanently shortly after.

The Heritage Company is not alone, as there are countless other stories of companies, small and mid-size mostly, that shut down because of a ransomware attack.

The Takeaway

There is never a 100-percent guarantee that a company won’t fall victim to a ransomware attack. Companies – no matter the type and size of their business – that are operating in today’s threat landscape must prepare themselves, just like they do for other disasters such as a fire or a flood.

Consider that some ransomware breaches can go undetected for months. According to IBM, it takes companies, on average, approximately 197 days to identify a breach and 69 days to contain them. For cybercriminals, that is a lot of time to do damage. Imagine if your business was breached. It’s a scenario most of us don’t ever want to think about it but have to.

The first step in protection is to be proactive and have a robust cybersecurity plan in place that follows best practices. According to Cybersafe Solutions, an industry leader in the cyber-sphere, 91 percent of today’s successful breaches begin with an endpoint attack. Therefore it is critical to keep consistent backups and combine it with 24/7/365 network and endpoint monitoring to oversee an organization’s endpoints in real-time to identify, respond, isolate, and contain attacks before data is removed. Working with a reputable cybersecurity company can help execute these precautions and mitigate the risks that are known and unknown.

Cybersafe’s state-of-the-art solutions focus on real-time threat intelligence and 24/7/365 network and endpoint monitoring. Their enhanced visibility is able to track and monitor the different phases of a cyberattack that may be active in your network. Their specialists are able to offset threats before they become real dangers to organizations because, without proper monitoring, there is no way to prove who is responsible for an attack, who got in, and how to prevent it from happening again.

Mark Petersen

Vice President of Sales

Cybersafe Solutions, LLC

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