What businesses should know about ransomware
Learn how to keep your business safe from this devastating form of malware
In 2020, a new organization became victim to ransomware every 10 seconds and the average amount of ransom requested by hackers rose 33%. [1,2]
Last year’s ransomware statistics exemplify just how sophisticated internet criminals have become as they demand more and more in exchange for the safe return of your data.
As a business owner, it’s essential for you to stay proactive and learn everything you can about ransomware to keep your company safe from data breaches and the threat of ransom demands.
Continue reading to learn what businesses should know about ransomware including eye-opening cyber crime statistics and tactics to keep your business data secure.
What is ransomware?
Ransomware is a type of malware that’s designed to deny access to a computer system or specific business-critical data until a ransom—usually in bitcoin—is paid. If the ransom is not paid, the hacker will threaten to destroy your data or withhold access to it permanently.
Oftentimes, ransomware is spread through phishing emails or drive-by downloading which is when you unknowingly visit an infected website and malware is secretly installed on your device. 
It’s important to understand that a ransomware attack can be devastating for businesses of any size—it’s not just large corporations that are potential targets. The average cost of a ransomware attack was $5,600 for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in 2020 and the average cost of downtime was $274,000 per incident—94% greater than in 2019. 
Why are ransomware attacks on the rise?
A cyber threat report analyzed the hundreds of millions of attempted cyber attacks that occurred every day throughout 2020 and found that ransomware increased by 435% as compared to 2019. 
On top of this increase sounding alarming, the spike in ransomware attacks in 2020 is also quite consequential. Cyber attackers took advantage of the mass chaos and rapid transition to remote work caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and used their increasingly sophisticated skills to attack vulnerable businesses.
How does ransomware affect businesses?
The process of recovery for a business under a ransomware attack can be extremely complicated. Even when a data recovery specialist is on the case, some victims decide to actually pay the ransom to recover their data.
However, most law enforcement agencies and industry experts don’t recommend paying. Regardless of if you pay, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get everything—or indeed anything—back from the attacker.
Plus, while the average cost of a ransomware attack for businesses is $732,520 when the ransom isn’t paid, it’s $1,448,458 when the ransom is paid.  This statistic takes factors such as downtime, device cost, network cost, lost opportunity, and more into the price—all important aspects to consider when assessing the detrimental effects of a ransomware attack on your business’ overall operations.
What is the best defense against ransomware for my business?
Prevention and protection are the best defenses against ransomware. In a survey of IT managed service providers, 91% said that their clients with business continuity and disaster recovery solutions were less likely to experience significant downtime as a result of a ransomware attack. 
#1: Check the setup of your computer systems and network for any vulnerabilities. One of the most effective ways to achieve this is to get a comprehensive IT audit for your business which can analyze:
- If your antivirus software is active and up to date
- If your company software is up to date
- If all your drives are encrypted, and
- If your team is properly trained on best cyber security practices such as spotting email spoofing scams and using strong passwords.
#2: Back up your systems regularly and keep those backups separate from your network. It’s also recommended to use different login credentials for your backups, so that if your network is attacked, your storage is still safe.
#3: Partner with a reputable managed IT service provider whose job it is to make sure you’re fully protected, both now and in the future. It’s important for you to choose an IT partner who will support your business every step of the way, with the capabilities to help you grow and succeed.
In terms of what businesses should know about ransomware, it’s all about staying educated and proactive. Cyber attackers are becoming more and more sophisticated in their criminal tactics everyday, so it’s essential for you to stay up-to-date on the latest cyber security insights and trends. However, the lessons you learn are only beneficial if you’re putting them to use—you have to protect your business from cyber attacks with proper security measures from a trusted IT service partner.
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