Ransomware attacks are on the rise—how does this affect businesses?
Learn more about the recent high-profile ransomware attacks and how to protect your business
In the last year, ransomware attacks have grown rapidly, and it’s estimated that by the end of 2021, ransomware’s global cost will reach $20 billion, up from $11.5 billion in 2019. 
Just in the past few months, there have been multiple high-profile ransomware attacks, including the Colonial Pipeline attack and the JBS attack.
It’s important to stay updated on the latest in ransomware and learn how to best protect your business.
Who is a target for ransomware?
Any business, no matter the size, can be a target for a ransomware attack. Nevertheless, there are a few factors that can increase the risk of an attack.
An increased risk can depend on how well-trained your employees are, how valuable your data is to hackers, and how vulnerable your security measures are.
Certain institutions and sectors may also be more vulnerable than others—education, government, healthcare, and HR departments are among the top targets for ransomware attacks.
Why are ransomware attacks on the rise?
Ransomware attacks are nothing new and have been a big business for many years, with the average ransomware payment in 2019 being $115,213. 
However, in 2020, this number rose 171% to $312,493—why? 
The COVID-19 pandemic has made businesses more vulnerable to ransomware attacks. Hackers know that many businesses are distracted by the pandemic. Many employees are also working from home, which brings more security vulnerabilities.
In April 2021, the Colonial Pipeline, which supplies 45% of the East Coast’s fuel, was hit with a ransomware attack by a group of hackers, called DarkSide. These hackers accessed the pipeline’s network because of one compromised password leaked on the Dark Web. This attack caused the pipeline to shut down, and as result many of the gas stations on the East Coast shut down and gas prices rose. The pipeline ended up paying DarkSide $4.4 million in bitcoin to regain access to their network and files. 
Just one month later, in May 2021, major meat supplier JBS was attacked by hacker group, REvil. Meat plants across the United States and Australia shut down for at least one day following the attack. JBS paid the hacker group $11 million in bitcoin to avoid further damages and lost files even though many of the systems were still running. 
Following these attacks, the United States Department of Justice announced they would treat ransomware attacks with a similar priority as terror attacks. 
What is bitcoin, how does it work in ransomware?
Cryptocurrency is a decentralized digital currency that works as a medium of exchange. There are many different cryptocurrencies, but arguably the most popular is bitcoin.
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency help to fuel ransomware attacks. Purchasing cryptocurrency is much easier for companies than getting money out of the international banking system, and hackers know this.
Hackers like to use bitcoin because of its anonymity. Converting money to bitcoin, sending, and receiving it doesn’t require the use of a legal name or address. When it comes to a method of acquiring untraceable funds, it’s a criminal’s dream come true. 
What can my business do to protect against ransomware?
Preparing and having appropriate cybersecurity measures are crucial to helping prevent ransomware attacks against your business. There are many ways to do so.
- Educate your employees. Your team should be aware of cybersecurity best practices, such as never opening unknown or suspicious links and attachments.
- Utilize a data backup service. Data backups are essential to minimize the damages of a potential ransomware attack. Consider storing the backup data on a separate device or offline as well.
- Update all devices and software. Outdated security software increases the chances of a ransomware attack as hackers can see that there are vulnerabilities. Update your business’s anti-virus and anti-malware software as soon as possible.
- Partner with a reputable local IT company experienced in cyber security for your business needs, industry and size.
InterNetwork IT can help protect your business from ransomware!
Our team provides IT services in Orlando and surrounding areas for law firms, medical practices and small to midsize businesses across Central Florida. We have a wide range of IT packages equipped to handle your IT needs with a specialized service for IT security uniquely tailored to your business.
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Contact us today!