The Rise of Ransomware

The Rise of Ransomware

In 2020, ransomware attacks made a significant jump for corporations across the world. Last year, a new company fell victim to a ransomware attack every 10 seconds. With millions of companies supporting a mobile workforce during the pandemic, companies are more vulnerable to these attacks. Although these attacks are becoming more common, many people don’t understand the severity of them. Here is a brief overview of what ransomware is and how your team can protect yourself from these atrocious attacks.

What is Ransomware?

According to CISA, “Ransomware is an ever-evolving form of malware designed to encrypt files on a device, rendering any files and the systems that rely on them unusable. Malicious actors then demand ransom in exchange for decryption.” And unfortunately for the victims of these attacks, these actors threaten to sell or leak the exfiltrated data or authentication information if you don’t pay a ransom.

A recent example of one of these vicious ransomware attacks is video game developer CD Projekt Red (CDPR). Attackers stole source code to several of their video games and threatened to auction it off if they don’t pay a ransom. CDPR refused to pay the ransom, and the attackers sold the source code in an auction for a reported $7 million. CDPR decided not to pay the ransom, but there are many other costly impacts of this attack, such as a hit to their brand image, unhappy shareholders, and delays in future projects and updates.

Such an attack can be crippling to your company’s bottom line, and the scary part is, these attacks can be many different shapes and sizes. A ransomware attack can start with the infiltration into a single user and can quickly affect your entire company.

Thread hijacking is skyrocketing

Essentially, thread hijacking is when an attacker infects a single user and then accesses their email to spread malware to all of their contacts. “This makes it easier to trick new victims that are within the victim’s social and professional domain, as from their perspective they’re receiving an email from a trusted colleague concerning a known subject,” according to CISA.

In a blink of an eye, your entire staff and their contacts (possibly even customers) can fall victim to this malware. These vicious attacks can spread like wildfire and can bring your operations to a screeching halt. 

Malware attacks have hit the healthcare industry the hardest because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Attackers are targeting vulnerable healthcare organizations with malware attacks while they are busy fighting the virus. Monthly attacks on healthcare organizations jumped 37% last year.

So, what can your team do to mitigate the risks of these attacks?

How to protect your company from Ransomware

Proactively monitor your servers and network

The best offense for ransomware is a solid defense. Proactively monitoring your servers and network to identify any suspicious activity is the best way to avoid these attacks. Monitoring your services before an attack is the best way to prevent one.

Encourage best practices

Encouraging your staff to use best practices when accessing online applications is an excellent way to protect your company from ransomware. Send frequent reminders, encourage them not to click on suspicious links or provide personal data to unknown sources, and inform them about potential attacks to keep them from spreading.

Always backup your data

Regularly backing up your data is a great way to mitigate the impact of a ransomware attack. If an attacker infiltrates you, you can quickly restore your services from a recent backup. The faster you can restore order to your network, the smaller the impact of the attack.

Don’t ever pay a ransom

If you fall victim to an attack, don’t ever pay the ransom. Paying the ransom only encourages the attackers to commit further attacks and funds their malicious activity to target other companies. Plus, there is no guarantee that they will return the data once you pay them.

Enlist the help of an IT consulting firm

If this sounds complicated or your IT department doesn’t have the resources to prepare for such an attack, consider using an IT consulting company. JSG’s IT Consulting Services team can work with your IT team to build a defense against ransomware. Our team can monitor your network for suspicious activity and create a contingency plan if an attack occurs. We can help back up all of your files and employ our IT experts to help with any necessary disaster recovery efforts. We can build a custom suite of services to fit your IT needs, so you only pay for what’s needed. Reach out to us today to learn more about our IT services!