Nearly half of surveyed organizations experienced a ransomware attack in 2016, according to a study by Osterman Research. In March of that year alone, 56,000 ransomware infections plagued unsuspecting businesses. So far, 2017 has been another big year for ransomware attacks. WannaCry and NotPetya both impacted thousands of companies and users with seemingly no way out, sending IT professionals and business leaders into panic mode to resolve the issue. Fortunately, patches and other fixes were discovered to slow the spread of these strains, but it doesn’t negate the damage that was done.
Small-and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) can no longer afford to think that a ransomware attack will happen to them. As cyber threats continue to evolve, it will be critical to implement security measures that will prevent breaches and protect critical data. Ransomware attacks can be a costly proposition for SMBs, and it’s important that leaders understand just how much damage these methods can cause. Even small businesses can be infected with ransomware.
Size Doesn’t Matter – Your Data Does
Looking at some of the most publicized ransomware attacks, it can be easy to think that high-profile companies are most targeted by these methods. However, this complacency is dangerous, particularly when hackers are really only looking to make money from any company that needs to restore its data. Size of businesses no longer matter to ransomware campaigns. Instead, malicious parties look to infect as many computers and networks as possible in the hopes of getting a quick payday – and all money is good no matter if it comes from an enterprise or SMB. In fact, the WannaCry strain simply worked on Windows vulnerabilities and didn’t have specific targets.
The theory behind ransomware is that your most sensitive files will be locked away, forcing you to pay to get it back. The New York Times noted that it’s much easier for hackers to monetize these efforts rather than trying to steal credit card information and other data to sell on underground markets. As ransomware and other cyber threats continue to evolve, it’s more crucial than ever to evaluate your own risk level. Ensure that you have the security systems in place to prevent attacks and recover effectively.
“Losing access to essential data is cause for disaster.”
Cost of Recovery Could Force Closure
For any business, losing access to essential data is cause for disaster. Operations are forced to stop until the matter is resolved, and it can take some time for leaders to respond appropriately. Unfortunately, at the end of a ransomware attack, SMBs still reap a number of consequences. The first thing you might think of is the financial cost of recovery. For 50 percent of surveyed SMBs, hackers demanded less than $1,000, TechRepublic reported. However, 22 percent of organizations completely cease operations to purge their systems, hiking up the costs even more. Every hour of downtime is another expense. Add on compliance fines, and SMBs have a lengthy bill on their hands that could force them to close shop for good.
While big payouts are certainly a big hit to SMB recovery efforts, let’s assume that a business has the means to recover from this. Even after a financial hit, SMB leaders cannot relax; they must work diligently to rebuild relationships and revitalize incoming revenue streams. An industry survey found that 20 percent of shoppers would stop doing business with any retailer that reported a breach, SC Magazine reported. While customer data might not be affected by a ransomware attack on your system, the incident itself suggests that you’re not doing enough to protect your own information, leaving shoppers less likely to risk their own. These perceptions won’t change overnight and can mean the end of an SMB, which particularly relies on loyal patrons to keep operating.
Lack of Technology and Processes Add to Risk
With the potential damage caused by ransomware, preventing these threats is becoming more integral than detecting them. Having the right security technology and processes in place will be essential to mitigating risks and recovering quickly from any incidents. However, according to an industry report, poorly administered systems, unreliable passwords, irregular updates and outdated or missing backups could put SMBs in danger, Business Reporter stated.
The widespread lack of knowledge and incomplete processes make it far more difficult to recover and resume operations. Nearly half of SMBs took several data to restore their data, and another 25 percent believe it could take them several weeks to recover everything. To make matters worse, 44 percent of entrepreneurs admitted their lack of knowledge concerning IT threats, putting their very livelihood at stake.
Use proper security processes and technology.
Don’t Be a Statistic, Protect Yoursel
Rather than becoming another of these statistics, rework your procedures and implement necessary layered security measures to keep ransomware off your systems. Train employees as a first line of defense against these threats. Ransomware is often sent through emails as malicious downloads that users must enable. Teaching staff about what ransomware emails look like and no to install suspicious files will eliminate a lot of risk. Provide ongoing training sessions to ensure there are no knowledge gaps and to address evolving ransomware trends. In addition, monitoring should be enabled to detect unusual traffic and identify malicious activity before it can cause more damage.
One of the biggest tools for combating ransomware will be data backups. Organizations should typically follow the rule of maintaining three backups across two different mediums with one stored online. This effort can provide quick access to speed up recovery efforts. However, while more SMBs are relying on backups, 33 percent of IT professionals rarely test their recovery plans, and 62 percent test it once a year or less, Zetta reported. Some businesses don’t even have a strategy or an offsite protection medium, which can cause chaos during emergency situations. Organization leaders must ensure that they schedule regular backups and test them to ensure that the strategy will work when it’s needed most. This confidence will make recovering from ransomware a smoother experience.
Ransomware is impacting businesses of all sizes, and it’s up to you to ensure that you’re prepared for these threats. For more information on how to prevent and recover from a ransomware attack effective, contact Faronics today.