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The Rise of Ransomware

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Every company is at risk of a ransomware attack. Hackers target businesses and organizations regardless of size, industry, or nationality. One of the catalysts for this is the prevalence of Ransomware as a Service (RaaS). Would-be cybercriminals with little or no expertise can purchase tools from malware developers to launch their own ransomware attacks. Even one success over thousands of phishing emails can mean big profit to cybercriminals.

How Do They Do It?

Phishing is a common way for ransomware to penetrate your system. Human users receive an email that contains a link or a downloadable file, and the content of the email is worded in such a way as to trick the reader into downloading the document or following the link. Once they do, the malicious software unleashes hell on your system. And this isn’t the only method:

Spear Phishing

When attackers try to target a specific user, it’s called spear phishing. This term alludes to an angler who targets a specific fish with a spear instead of casting a wide net or baiting a hook to see what bites. Phishers use social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn to identify their targets and gather information about them. Then they use spoofed email addresses to make it appear as if the message is coming from a reliable source. Then they pretend to be someone the target knows in an attempt to get them to open an attachment or share sensitive information.

Whale Phishing

Whale phishing is a form of spear phishing that targets very big fish, most likely directors, board members, or C-level executives—people who have a great deal of authority within a company and would have access to sensitive information. Gathering enough information to build an attack for these targets is time consuming, but, if successful, can have a huge payoff.

Exploit Kits

This removes the human element and takes advantage of vulnerabilities in outdated or unpatched software. This method is how the WannaCry ransomware attack in May 2017 gained access to more than 200,000 computers in 150 countries.

Why Are Ransomware Attacks So Effective?

  • Willingness to pay ransoms – When their information is locked up by ransomware, most small businesses have nowhere to turn and no better option than simply to pay up. If a business hasn’t prepared for a ransomware attack, most often this is the easiest option.
  • Vulnerable software – If you don’t manage security updates and patches effectively, you are opening your system up to cybercriminals. Proper update management is one of the best defenses against ransomware attacks.
  • Lack of security awareness training – The human element of phishing attacks exploits perhaps the greatest weakness to your internet security. But with the right training, this weak element can also become your strongest asset.
  • Failure to test disaster recovery plans – Disaster recovery is a critical aspect of your network security, but if it isn’t periodically reviewed and tested, you are putting your business at risk.
  • No backup plan – The above only applies if you have a plan to begin with. There are many businesses, some that store and use personal customer information, that have no cybersecurity plan in place past the most basic of anti-virus programs.

What SBT Partners Can Do About It

Security is critical, and if your business has outdated cybersecurity procedures or none at all, it’s only a matter of time before you experience data loss or a ransomware attack. While this may feel like fear mongering, the reality is we live in a world where criminals are looking for any edge they can get.

The experts at SBT are here to help. We recommend backups for cloud email systems such as Backupify and also pairing that with a front-end email scanning such as Securence or Microsoft Anti Threat Protection. SBT Partners can assess your security posture and recommend the anti-ransomware measures your business needs to protect your data, your customers’ data, and your reputation.

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