What is ransomware?

Ransomware is a type of malicious software (malware) that is designed to block access to a computer system or encrypt its files until a ransom is paid by the victim. Ransomware can be delivered to a computer system through various methods, such as email phishing scams, infected websites, or software vulnerabilities. An attack usually begins with the victim clicking on a malicious link or downloading a file infected with the ransomware.

Once the ransomware infects the victim’s computer system, it will typically encrypt the victim’s files, making them inaccessible until a ransom is paid. The attacker will usually demand payment in exchange for providing a decryption key that can unlock the victim’s files. The ransom is typically demanded in cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin, to make it more difficult to trace the payment. However, there is no guarantee that the attacker will actually provide the decryption key, and even if they do, the victim’s files may still be compromised or infected with additional malware.

Ransomware attacks represent a significant threat to businesses worldwide. These types of cyber attacks can have devastating consequences, including significant financial losses, reputational damage, and downtime.

How bad is the problem?

•  According to a recent report by cybersecurity firm Sophos, the average cost of a ransomware attack on a business was $1.85 million in 2021, up from $761,106 in 2020.

•  These attacks can also cause significant downtime, with the same report indicating that the average time to recover from a ransomware attack was 17.1 days.

•  The number of new ransomware variants increased by 151% in Q1 2021 compared to the same period in 2020, according to a report by cybersecurity firm Kaspersky.

•  According to a report by cybersecurity firm Coveware, the average ransom payment in Q4 2021 was $306,774.

•  In 2021, 46% of organizations experienced a ransomware attack due to a phishing email, according to a report by cybersecurity firm Mimecast.

How to protect your business

It’s essential for businesses to take steps to protect themselves from ransomware attacks. One of the most important steps is to invest in a comprehensive ransomware protection strategy. This strategy should include a combination of preventative and reactive measures, including:

1.  Regular data backups: In the event of a ransomware attack, having up-to-date backups of critical data can mean the difference between a minor inconvenience and a major crisis. Having good backups in place can be much cheaper than paying the ransom.

2.  Employee training: Many ransomware attacks begin with an employee inadvertently downloading malware or clicking on a malicious link. By training employees on how to identify and avoid these threats, businesses can reduce the risk of a successful attack.

3.  Security software and firewalls: These tools can help to identify and block ransomware threats before they have a chance to do damage. However, they need to be updated regularly to keep pace with the evolving threat landscape.

4.  Incident response and disaster recovery plans: In the event of a ransomware attack, having a plan in place can help to minimize the impact and reduce downtime. According to a report by cybersecurity firm IBM, organizations with an incident response team in place experienced an average cost savings of $2.1 million in the event of a data breach.

5.  Cyber insurance: This type of insurance can help cover the costs associated with responding to an attack, including data recovery, legal fees, and public relations. Global spending on cyber insurance is expected to reach $20 billion by 2025, according to a report by cybersecurity firm Cybersecurity Ventures.

In addition to the above measures, it’s important to stay up-to-date and informed on the latest ransomware threats and trends. Cybercriminals are constantly evolving their tactics, so businesses must be vigilant and proactive in their approach to ransomware protection.

Ransomware attacks are a significant threat to businesses, with the costs and downtime associated with these attacks increasing. However, with a comprehensive ransomware protection strategy in place, businesses can reduce their risk of a successful attack and minimize the impact in the event of an attack.