Ransomware attacks are surging. Are you protected?
Cyber thugs are steadily increasing both the volume and the sophistication of their ransomware attacks. Companies and organizations large and small are falling victim to the global onslaught.
Experts concur 2017 was probably the worst year ever for cyber incidents in general. Leading the charge in these incidents was ransomware attacks. Hackers and malware authors have no doubt been emboldened by their overall success, and they’ve had a fairly successful first quarter here in 2018.
So, what is ransomware?
Ransomware is a form of malware that seeks to encrypt a victim’s data, rendering it unusable. The hackers will request a ransom—typically in bitcoin—in exchange for the decryption keys to unlock the data.
Ransomware victims are usually infected by attachments in bogus emails. In some cases, a drive-by download from a compromised website have also caused ransomware infections.
Some victims have paid the ransom out of desperation. Data has become the lifeblood of many operations, and without it, a business can effectively be shut down. Sadly, many of the victims who’ve paid the ransom didn’t get their data back.
It’s important to view the actual ransom as just one part of the potential financial loss in a successful ransomware attack. Data restoration, cleanup, and other tasks can really balloon the final tally.
And don’t forget about downtime. How much would it cost your company if productivity was halted for a day… a week… longer?
The City of Atlanta paid over 2.6 million for ransomware attack cleanup
The City of Atlanta is one of the big ransomware victims this year. The Georgia capital was hit with the SamSam ransomware variant, and the resulting digital shutdown paralyzed some of the city’s key services.
Though it’s unclear whether the city actually paid the roughly $50,000 ransom in bitcoin, it is clear the city paid a very large sum to clean up its systems in the attack’s aftermath.
Last month, the city paid over 2.6 million on emergency security efforts, as well as $650,000 on crisis communication services and incident response consulting.
The City of Leeds: Ransomware hits home in Alabama
Ransomware hit close to InCare’s HQ when the City of Leeds, Alabama was struck with ransomware in early February.
The ransomware attack encrypted the city’s data, shutting down its computer systems. The hackers demanded $12,000 in bitcoin for data decryption.
The city settled on a ransom payment with the hackers. Unfortunately, only limited data was restored. The city called upon InCare Technologies to assist with data restoration and cleanup.
“My company is too small-time to be a viable target for a ransomware attack.”
Some may think their outfit is too insignificant in the grand scheme of things, and that hackers are only interested in attacking the big fish in the world pond.
A report* from Verizon proclaimed over 60% of data breaches targeted small businesses. Why is that? Experts believe hackers are naturally attracted to smaller businesses because they typically don’t have the resources to keep up an elaborate cybersecurity stance against attacks.
“What can I do to protect my business against these ransomware attacks?”
“Unfortunately, no one piece of hardware or software can block against all types of ransomware and cyber attacks,” said Brian Walker, CEO of InCare Technologies. “It’s therefore best to adopt a layered approach to security.”
“Most companies have a firewall and other traditional forms of network security,” said Aaron Allen, InCare’s Director of Technical Services. “But are those things updated on a regular basis and tuned against the latest threats? What worked last week may very well be surmountable today.”
Hackers are always attacking with new variations, testing the limits of defenses. They can come from a different angle and catch you off guard. Again, that’s why it’s important to have those multiple security layers. If one layer fails, the attackers will have to contend with another obstacle. And another one after that…
Backups: the ultimate defense against ransomware lockdown
So what happens if an extremely determined and capable attacker somehow is able to prevail and get at your precious mission critical data?
“Backups are the best last line of defense,” said Walker. “And we’re talking about good, modern backups. Tape and other outdated forms of backup just aren’t going to cut it these days.”
“Image-based backups are the best form of backup,” said Allen. “They essentially create an image of a particular state in time for a computer or server. When it comes time to restore, you can efficiently reinstate that image on the same or even different hardware.”
Indeed, having options and flexibility in times of crisis such as a total ransomware shutdown is a welcome thing.
“Image-based backups, like the type in our InVault Pro service, are much more efficient than the backup models of yore,” continued Allen. “If you get hit with ransomware, you’ll be able to get back up and running a lot quicker than if you had to restore from tape.”
Ready to fight back against ransomware?
“IT security is no longer a topic that can be pushed back in the agenda,” emphasized Walker. “Ransomware is not going anywhere anytime soon.
“Head to our ransomware support page for more information about the high cost of ransomware. Contact us for a free security and ransomware consultation, or fill out the form below and one of our network security experts will get back to you right away.”
* Verizon Data Breach Investigation Report: http://www.verizonenterprise.com/verizon-insights-lab/dbir/2017/