How Bad Is Ransomware?
Let’s start with some statistics:
- Since 2016, over 4,000 ransomware attacks have occurred every day in the United States.
- The largest ransomware payout was made by an insurance company in 2021 at $40 million.
- The average downtime a company experiences after a ransomware attack is 21 days.
- 65% of employers allow their employees to access company applications from unmanaged personal devices.
If these statistics sound scary, that’s good. Skip to the final section to learn more about how you can be prepared and fight back today.
If you feel as if none of this can happen to your company because you’re too small, in an industry that’s unlikely to be targeted, too well-liked by the community, or feel as if you can hide behind the probability that it won’t happen to you, then read on. The reality is that regardless of any of these facts, if your company has anything of value, criminals want it. This year has seen a steady rise in the number of cyberattacks and ransoms demanded by cybercriminals, which means it’s no longer a matter of if, but when.
This blog will get into how to fight back through comprehensive cybersecurity, but let’s first take a look at how the typical ransomware attack happens, how much a data breach costs a company, and what we’ve learned so far.
The Anatomy of a Ransomware Attack
- The first step for hackers is reconnaissance. A common misconception is that hackers cast a wide net, but they’re more likely to take time to research a target before they try to gain access. This means they look for email addresses, social media posts, and other information or vulnerabilities they can use to plan their attack.
- The next step is gaining access. While mass phishing emails are common, hackers will also carefully choose their targets. Malicious software can be concealed in ordinary-looking PDF, Word, or Excel files, or even pictures. Hackers can even use a link that directs users to a malicious website. The goal is to become part of the target’s infrastructure, and once they have access, the damage begins.
- Another misconception is that once a user opens a malicious ransomware file, they see a blue screen of death. In the way smart hackers work, the initial file is a key that unlocks the entire system. Throughout this delivery stage, hackers will gain a foothold in the targeted system, and what they do and look at are difficult to detect. They can use keylogger software to follow how users navigate a system. They steal usernames and passwords. They see how often the system is backed up and how that’s done. They find vulnerable servers. The goal is to get the most important files and applications that, when lost, will grind the business to a halt.
- The most dramatic stage is delivery. This is where infected servers and computers are encrypted and locked. Access to backups can be blocked. Malicious software replicates itself and spreads throughout the system. Users are notified through a single text file that their data is being held for ransom and what they need to do to get it back.
Modern Attacks Focus on the Data and the Fix – Ransomware attacks not only encrypt and lock data, but smart hackers know how you’ll respond, and they make sure that duplicates and backups are inaccessible to complicate any restoration process.
Effective Ransomware Attacks Are Carefully Targeted – While widespread attacks like WannaCry and BadRabbit grab headlines because they have catchy names and hit multiple targets, it’s the specifically targeted and carefully planned ransomware attacks that do the most damage. Recent attacks on Colonial Pipeline, T-Mobile, and AXA (a European insurance company that, ironically, announced changes to its cybersecurity policies shortly before being attacked) are examples of deliberate attacks that take months or even years of planning and research to pull off.
Hackers Are Motivated by Profit – Ransomware has grown into a huge industry because it’s profitable. A business is attacked by ransomware every 11 seconds, and the expected costs of successful attacks are expected to reach $20 billion by the end of 2021.
Costs Aren’t Limited to Ransom Payouts – It’s not hard to imagine the time and resources it will take for your business to recover important data. The ransomware impact on business includes downtime, lost productivity, lost business, restoration of hostage data, and forensic investigation, not to mention the loss of goodwill from customers and the expense of employee testing and training.
SBT Partners Actively Works To Secure Your Systems
From the perspective of our clients, it’s difficult to get a full picture of how destructive ransomware can be. Businesses can feel the effects of a ransomware attack years after it happens, and some of them never fully recover.
SBT Partners provides a broad range of cybersecurity tools that are designed to keep your network safe from all external threats. Whether it’s a security and vulnerability test, employee training (for issues such as phishing attacks), or maintaining your critical infrastructure, we can help you avoid conflicts and ensure your company can work out of harm’s way.
Vulnerability Assessments – We start with a full assessment of your systems, data backup procedures, security, and how prepared you are in the event of a ransomware attack. We can even detail what a hacker would target and give a rundown of how at-risk your systems are.
Security Awareness Training – In the war against data loss and cyberattackers, your employees are an essential first line of defense. All of the technology in the world cannot stop an employee from opening a malicious file and exposing your network to an attack from within.
The bottom line is that all companies need to invest adequate resources in cybersecurity. That includes a dedicated technology partner who can prepare your business to defend itself or help you pick up the pieces and fight back.
Ransomware is a huge issue facing businesses today, and SBT Partners is here to help you stay ahead of it. Reach out to us today, and let’s work together to protect your business.