Ransomware is The Biggest Cyber Security Threat
Imagine you mistakenly click on a link in a spam email or active macros in a malicious file. Within seconds, your system’s data will be encrypted. Nightmare?
Yes, that can happen. Your data has been hijacked. The hackers will then flash a message on your screen, asking for thousands of dollars as ransom to restore your access to your data. You will get a deadline to pay.
Unless you have a backup of your files, you may end up paying tens of thousands of dollars to get the key to decrypt your data. Whether you will get back your data after paying the ransom is even not guaranteed.
What Actually is Ransomware?
Ransomware is a billion dollar cyber crime industry. It affects both individuals and organizations, including businesses of all sizes. Hackers use a complex malware to block your access to your critical data on your PC, mobile device, or any other digital system. They demand money to provide you a key that you can use to regain access to your data.
Here is the story of a woman who fell victim to cyber ransomware.
What Do the Stats Say?
According to the FBI, ransomware victims paid out $209 million in the first quarter of 2016. That amount was $25 million for the all of 2015. There has been 4000 percent increase in the rate of cyber ransomware within one year. Shocked?
According to the Kaspersky Lab, every 1 in 5 business across the world has fallen victim to ransomware. And 70 percent of the enterprise ransomware victims paid up to regain access to their data.
Imagine the loss of business resulting from the downtime in the aftermath of a ransomware attack. According to a survey reported by Yahoo Finance, 11 percent of the enterprises that fell victim to ransomware said it took them more than a week to get back access to their data after the attack.
In 35 percent cases, ransomware had affected cloud storage, especially Dropbox, Office365, Google Apps, and salesforce. Thirty-eight percent of the enterprise victims were from the service sector, followed by 17 percent from the manufacturing sector.
Are There Different Types of Ransomware?
Yes. There are various types of cyber ransomware. Security experts have identified more than 100 types of ransomware so far. The common ones include encryption ransomware, lock screen ransomware, master boot record ransomware, ransomware encrypting web servers, and mobile device ransomware.
What Are The Causes?
The primary cause of the rise in cyber ransomware is the tendency of people to fall for spam or phishing. Most organizations fail to educate their employees about ransomware. They disregard the importance of training their workforce in identifying malicious links in spam emails.
Also, there are many employees who access malicious websites or get tricked into clicking on malicious links. It has been found out that there is at least one employee in all organizations who will click on anything.
Most enterprise victims of ransomware were not prepared for the attack. They had no tools in place to monitor system usage, identify malicious links and codes, prevent ransomware, and execute ransomware recovery.
How to Prevent Ransomware?
In order to prevent cyber ransomware, you must be fully prepared and have the right tools to identify and thwart any attempt to hijack your data and systems. Education, awareness, and training of your employees is yet another critical element in protecting your systems from ransomware.
If you have robust and reliable cyber security strategies and standards, you are less likely to become a victim of cyber ransomware.
In order to prevent ransomware in your organization, be sure to:
- Carry out cyber security assessments from time to time
- Segregate your data on the basis of roles and needs
- Perform system hardening
- Have intrusion detecting systems in place
- Use versioning control or read-only partitions
- Use File Server Resource Manager (FSRM) to monitor file activity
- Keep eye on honeypot files
- Backup backup backup – on cloud and offline
- Use reliable antivirus software
- Educate and train your employees – Never open emails or notifications from people/sources you don’t know
- Keep all of your software updated
- Enable the ‘Show File Extensions’ option in the Windows settings
- Disconnect your system immediately if you suspect or identify a rogue activity or process in progress
Remember, cyber criminals are always busy honing their methods. They use new and sophisticated tools. They can go to any extent to rip you off your money. In order to fully protect your organization from cyber ransomware, you should use the services of a trusted and reliable cyber security consulting company.