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What Your Business Should Know About Ransomware Attacks

Cyber Security

So far, in 2021 alone, we have recognized a significant spike in ransomware attacks. Ransomware victims can vary from large global companies to small businesses. That's why every business needs to know what ransomware attacks are and how they can best be avoided.  


As a managed IT provider, we work with many clients to recognize vulnerabilities, secure their environment, and protect them from breaches that could result in significant financial losses. Not only is it our job to keep our clients safe, but also our job is to educate companies on the threats they may be overlooking. Our goal is to help businesses understand why it is so vital to be proactive with security strategies and use the right tools to mitigate a potential cyber attack.  


For this reason, we will share some of our expertise on ransomware attacks to give you the knowledge you need to protect your business better. 


What is a Ransomware Attack? 

Ransomware is malicious software that encrypts your computer system and blocks access to valuable information or files. The files are not released to your company until a certain amount of money is paid to the ransomware hacker. 


Getting hit by a ransomware attack can happen to any person or business, small, medium, or large. Once they have gotten ahold of your system, it can result in a significant loss of money and extended downtime until the system is back up and running properly.


How does Ransomware work?

A ransomware attack encrypts your data, and the hacker holds a unique private key that decrypts it. It is hard to outmaneuver because it can quickly and easily destroy your information if not dealt with carefully. When you get hit with ransomware, a message will be displayed on your screen informing you about the ransomware attack and demanding payment.


When it comes to a ransomware attack, it is highly frowned upon to pay the ransom to the hacker. This is because it can encourage the perpetrators to continue targeting new victims. For that reason, it is ill-advised to give into a ransomware attack.


So, why do people do it?


There are several reasons people give in to paying the ransom rather than waiting it out or trying to unencrypt it themselves. 


Many people simply do not feel they have the option to wait for their system to recover. For instance, if an educational institution were to get a ransomware attack, this would affect thousands of people, if not more. In this case, the institution would want the attack resolved as quickly as possible, incentivizing them to make the payment. 


Another reason many people choose to pay off the ransom is that they feel there is far more to lose when the network is down than to pay off a sum of money quickly. When a computer system is under a ransomware attack, this can lead to loss of sales opportunities, a damaged reputation, lost customer, client, or investor confidence, and loss of confidential information of your business and/or your clients. 


Data exfiltration is another significant concern. This is when hackers can access a victim's confidential information, files, logins, and emails. This data can be taken and leaked to the public. This typically leads to blackmail, which is why companies end up paying the ransom.


Where have we seen Ransomware before?

Ransomware attacks are a growing threat to many industries. In the past year, you may have heard of the more recent ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline, whose network was taken hostage until Colonial paid $4.4 million to avoid confidential information getting leaked


Kaseya's software company was also targeted over the Fourth of July holiday weekend. This led to about 1500 other businesses getting compromised around the world. Kaseya was a large opportunity for the hackers because not only did the hackers get into their network, but they also got into the networks of the clients that Kaseya manages.


Four tips to help you avoid Ransomware:

1. Keep your system, browser, and software updated.

2 Use a robust security solution.

3. Back up your data.

4. Be careful of what you download or click.


Although these tips can help prevent a ransomware attack, sometimes there is no foolproof way to stop it. For this reason, it is imperative to have a strategic plan in place if it does. 


Is Your Business at Risk of Cyber Threats?

Ransomware attacks are not the only threat to be aware of. Many other threats have been significantly more common in 2021 and affect companies daily. This is why all companies must ensure they are doing the right things to secure their companies. 


As a Managed IT Company, we meet with businesses to determine if they are taking the proper steps to mitigate cyber threats. A handful of things can tell us a company is not following best practices. What should your company be doing to ensure you have good cybersecurity culture?


Here is a checklist to help determine if your cybersecurity is where it should be: 5 Signs You Have Good Cybersecurity Culture.