The Ultimate Guide To Understanding Ransomware Attacks

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understanding ransomware attacks

Ransomware is a type of malicious software that infiltrates computers, encrypts data, and prevents users from accessing it until a ransom is paid to the hacker. The concept behind ransomware is simple: to keep data hostage and demand payment for its safe recovery. Attacks can grind businesses to a halt or impair efficiencies for months if the ransom is not paid within a certain amount of time, usually in an untraceable digital currency like Bitcoin. Ransomware attacks have become increasingly common for the following reasons:  

  • They require little technical knowledge to launch. Even amateur hackers with basic technical knowledge can purchase login credentials and “Ransomware as a Service” (RaaS) packages on the Dark Web from more experienced cybercriminals. 
  •  Cybercriminals get paid in little to no time. In most cyberattacks, criminals must first steal information and then offer it on hidden sites on the dark web. With ransomware, paydays are practically instant since most organizations cannot function without their data being kept from them. 

The Frequency of Ransomware Attacks

Ransomware attacks saw an unprecedented peak right after the COVID-19 pandemic began. Studies show that ransomware gangs are also changing their target, from large enterprises to small and medium businesses. (Source: Coveware) 

These ransomware groups used to commonly target big companies because they are most likely to pay the ransom demand. However, large enterprises that usually spend a lot of resources on cybersecurity have enhanced their defences against ransomware over time.  

The high cost of ransomware attacks

Downtime is still the costliest aspect of a ransomware attack. In Q4 of 2020, the average firm experienced 21 days of downtime, 2 more days than in Q3. (Source: Coveware).Downtime can range from bringing a firm to a complete halt to having just minor effects due to unavailable machinery, speaking of a manufacturing company

The cost of ransomware assaults is also increasing. According to a recent study, the average cost for recovering from a ransomware attack, considering downtime, employee’s time, device cost, network cost, lost opportunity, ransom payment, etc. was US$1.85 million.  

Also, the average ransom paid by mid-sized organizations was US$170,404. 

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Cyber insurance

While cyber insurance covers some of these costs, organizations cannot depend on cyber policies to make them whole after a ransomware attack. The typical cyber insurance policy does not cover regulatory fines for violating compliance mandates such as PIPEDA. Also, if a company is forced to shut down for a lengthy period, or if its digital intellectual property (IP) is compromised during the assault, it may suffer irreversible harm. 

The emerging threat of double extortion 

Ransomware assaults are effectively turned into data breaches thanks to double extortion. It originally surfaced in late 2019 and currently accounts for more than a tenth of all ransomware assaults. Cybercriminals use a double extortion assault to encrypt and steal a victim’s data, then threaten to publicly reveal or sell it if the ransom is not paid. 

How to prevent ransomware attacks 

  • Perform regular system backups 

Backups are necessary not just to recover data after a cyberattack, but also to restore data after catastrophic system failures and hardware damage caused by natural events.  

Because many ransomware payloads are transmitted via phishing emails, educating staff on how to spot phishing schemes is an important part of preventing infection. 

  • Secure your employee’s passwords 

The most severe risk to an organization’s cybersecurity is weak or compromised passwords. Employee password practices are to blame for most data breaches, in addition to driving brute-force attacks, which are the most popular ransomware delivery technique. 

In a brute-force assault, fraudsters get a list of stolen credentials from a data breach and attempt to infiltrate servers and endpoints with the help of bots. These attacks are particularly effective because many users use weak, common, and easy-to-guess passwords and reuse passwords across multiple accounts. Employees should be required to use strong, unique passwords for all accounts, utilize multi-factor authentication (2FA) on all accounts that allow it, and use a password manager to prevent brute-force assaults. 

Business email compromise attacks are another rising threat. Business Email Compromise (BEC) is a type of cyberattack where criminals impersonate company executives or employees to trick others into transferring money, sharing sensitive information, or performing unauthorized actions. These attacks often involve sophisticated social engineering tactics and carefully crafted emails that appear legitimate.

To protect against BEC attacks, small businesses should implement robust security measures, such as multi-factor authentication for email accounts, regular employee training on identifying phishing attempts, and establishing clear protocols for verifying and approving financial transactions. Additionally, businesses should invest in advanced email security solutions that can detect and block suspicious emails, helping prevent BEC attacks from reaching their targets. By combining these strategies, small businesses can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to Business Email Compromise.

Conclusion 

Ransomware is still a menacing threat and decision-makers should take the proper precautions to get their businesses secured. Let’s get your business safe with managed network services from Wingman Solutions. Schedule a quick 15-minute call to give you the help you need.  

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