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Can your business afford to spend an unexpected $100,000?

By now, you’ve probably heard of ransomware. It’s a type of cyberattack that can cost your business thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars, but probably not in the way you might be thinking.

When you fall victim to a ransomware attack, downtime can significantly impact your business’s bottom line. According to a 2019 article by Security Magazine, “The average cost of downtime is $141,000, a more than 200-percent increase over last year’s average downtime cost of $46,800. The report also uncovered that the cost of downtime is now 23-times greater than the average ransom request of $5,900.”

Cyberattacks can happen to anyone at any time, but by understanding what ransomware is and how the cyberattack works, you can help protect your business from experiencing catastrophic downtime and losing valuable data.

Ransomware: It’s in the Name

Keep in mind that many seemingly complicated computer terms are made up on the fly, then adapted for general use. Ransomware is just that—it’s a type of harmful software (malware) where the attacker forces you to pay a ransom fee to regain access to your system or files. Hence the term ransomware.

Think of ransomware similar to a hostage situation or kidnapping. Somehow, the attacker tricks you into handing over login information or installing ransomware onto your system. Once they have access, the attacker either steals files, prevents you from accessing your files, or limits access to your system until you pay a fee. Upon receiving payment, usually by way of an untraceable currency such as Bitcoin, the attacker allows you to regain access to your system and files.

However, we’ve all seen movies and TV shows about kidnappings and ransom payments—there’s no guarantee that when you make the payment, you’ll get what you paid for in return. With computer systems, this becomes especially dangerous and repeatable. If one hacker found their way into your system to extort money from you, it can surely happen again if you don’t take the right precautions.

3 Common Types of Ransomware

Typically, the most common types of ransomware attacks fall into the following categories: scareware, lock screen, or encryption.

Scareware

Using similar naming logic to ransomware, scareware is malware installed by an attacker to frighten you into handing over money. In most cases, scareware will bombard you with annoying notifications or threaten you with consequences, like an FBI investigation or jail time, unless you pay a fee. Generally, scareware doesn’t seriously affect your system, and a cybersecurity professional can easily remove the ransomware.

Lock screen ransomware

Lock screen ransomware falls between scareware and encryption ransomware in terms of potential threats to your business. One of the most obvious and common types of ransomware, lock screen ransomware prevents you from accessing your device. Instead, a threatening login screen requires you to enter a password to regain control. The party responsible for the attack demands payment in exchange for the password required to remove the lock screen. A cybersecurity expert can typically help you regain access to your system when you experience a lock screen ransomware attack.

Encryption ransomware

Encryption ransomware is one of the most dangerous cybersecurity threats to businesses. This type of cyberattack enables advanced, complex data encryption algorithms to lock and prevent access to files. In addition, encryption ransomware can scramble file names and system files, making it nearly impossible for you to determine the severity of the attack. Through a digital ransom note, the attackers demand payment in exchange for decrypting your files. Encryption ransomware typically requires advanced cybersecurity tools and expertise to disinfect the system.

Who’s at Risk for a Ransomware Attack?

Ransomware attacks are extremely unpredictable. Hackers can attack at any time by way of phishing attacks, zero-day cyberattacks, password hacking, or another type of cyberattack.

Remember, that with ransomware attacks, the party responsible for the attack is looking to get a quick payday. For that reason, businesses are typically at a greater risk than individuals for ransomware attacks. Hackers know that businesses will be tempted to make a fast payment to save their reputation, regain access to data, and limit downtime. In particular, small and medium-sized businesses with limited IT resources, visually outdated websites, and out-of-date security features should be increasingly cautious of ransomware threats.

Protect Yourself From Ransomware Attacks

As we’ve stated, with the slightest accidental click, such as opening the wrong email, or accidentally typing the wrong URL address, anyone can fall victim to a ransomware attack. While the threat will always exist for your network-connected devices, including mobile devices, workstations, and servers, you can take steps to protect your system and minimize data loss in the event your system gets hacked.

  1. Employ a cybersecurity solution. High Touch recommends a multilayered cybersecurity solution comprised of firewalls, endpoint protection, email security, user education, and data backup.
  2. Update, update, update. Don’t ignore application, operating system, or firewall updates. Oftentimes, these updates include critical code patches that prevent hackers from accessing previously identified vulnerabilities.
  3. Click carefully. If a link, email, or attachment looks suspicious, don’t click on it. Hover the pointer over links to ensure the URL matches the text. Don’t open email from unknown senders and be especially suspicious of all email attachments you receive. Oftentimes, ransomware attacks are executable (.exe) files disguised as a more common file format.
  4. Update and maintain your backups. If you fall victim to a ransomware attack, you want to make sure you can still access your data and minimize downtime. We recommend maintaining off-site and on-site backups. Likewise, test your backup solutions regularly to ensure your data is stored and updated as intended.

What Should You Do If You Experience a Ransomware Attack?

If you’re unlucky enough to be targeted by a ransomware attack, the first thing you need to know is don’t pay the ransom. There’s no guarantee that the attacker will provide access to your system after receiving payment.

Instead, contact your cybersecurity provider. It’s likely that if the attacker was able to gain access to your system via a ransomware attack, they could be collecting additional information in the background without you knowing. Your cybersecurity professional should be able to uncover the attack, remove the ransomware, and help restore your files. However, if you don’t have a complete cybersecurity solution in place, you may lose important, invaluable data and files.

Taking a proactive approach to cybersecurity is essential for surviving a ransomware attack.

Interested In Learning How to Keep Your Business Safe?

High Touch specializes in providing complete technology solutions for businesses including Cybersecurity, Data Backup and Recovery, and Remote IT Management. Contact us today to learn how High Touch can help keep your business safe from ransomware.

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