How to Become a Victim of Ransomware

Jul 29, 2016

No matter the size of your organization, it’s at risk of being hit by a ransomware attack. A study by McAfee Labs found more than 4 million samples of ransomware in the second quarter of 2015 alone. 

What makes these attacks a draw for cybercriminals is the fast, painless pay-days. From personal computers to multiple workstations and even entire server rooms, these clever viruses are designed to attack and spread.

Once they infect a technical host, they go to work encrypting every piece of data within reach. When the deed is done, they hold the data for ransom. Then, they deliver the threats to their victims, making you pay up or lose your data forever. Victims are then forced to pay a lump sum – typically in Bitcoins, the untraceable currency. And for companies that lose an entire data center to ransomware, the price to unlock precious data can stretch into the thousands. Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital had to pay $17,000 to unlock their data that was captive for 10 days. Having a reliable IT security solution in place can help help protect your data and provide peace of mind.

The Real Costs of Ransomware Attacks

In 2015 alone, ransomware attacks caused roughly $325 million in damages. Plus, on top of financial losses, there’s also the cost of reputation damage. As a result, many ransomware victims stay silent about their situation for fear that it will result in bad publicity. This makes it almost impossible to know exactly how many companies and organizations are truly impacted.

What’s worse, by simply giving in to demands, your company or personal device becomes a prime target for repeated attacks. This can lead to greater long-term costs. 

Becoming a Victim is Easier Than You Think

Think you’re too savvy to be the prey of ransomware? Think again! Becoming a victim is as easy as clicking the “X” on an ad that pops up in your browser. “Malvertising” may be the latest string of cybercrime, but it’s far from the last. Attacks are becoming more sophisticated every second. New cyber-webs are being designed to trap more victims.

While it’s impossible to completely guarantee that you will never be the victim of ransomware, there are preventative measures you can take to ensure the effects of an attack don’t leave you scrambling to invest in Bitcoins.

Prevention is the Best Cure

By taking stringent, protective measures, you can lessen the likelihood that your organization will fall prey to a ransomware attack.

Here are some of the best ways to protect your company against a ransomware attack:

1. Implement robust security measures.

Businesses must seek advice of a cybersecurity expert who can help to fortify network security defenses. The goal is to limit your organization’s vulnerabilities.

2. Update software and security patches.

Anti-virus software and firewalls must be kept up-to-date and monitored so they can more accurately detect and block impending threats. In addition, all software and firmware should be frequently updated and patched on every company device to avoid software vulnerabilities.

3. Separate devices and systems.

Consider restricting your mapped drivers to prevent a ransomware infection from spreading between devices. This makes it easier for your IT teams to quarantine an infection.

4. Educate employees

All it takes is for a single employee to click on or download an infected item for your entire organization to be at risk of an attack. Train your employees to detect possible ransomware threats. Also, encourage employees to back up their personal devices often.

5. BACK UP your systems.

This is the most important step for preventing ransomware from wreaking havoc on your business. Back up your data center frequently onto systems that are separated from your main site. If proper separation is not implemented, ransomware infections can spread to your backup system. Then you will really be in trouble.