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The devastating impacts of Ransomware

Ransomware is defined by CISCO as “a type of malicious software or malware. It encrypts a victim’s data, after which the attacker demands a ransom. Once the ransom is paid, the attacker sends a decryption key to restore access to the victim’s data. The ransom can range from a few hundred dollars to millions of dollars. Typically, payment is demanded in the form of a cryptocurrency, such as bitcoins”.[1]

Unfortunately, the past few years has seen significant increases in this type of attack on corporate systems. The attackers are becoming ever-more sophisticated and committed to this type of cybercrime which has proved to be very lucrative for these unscrupulous crooks. Vigliarolo[2] outlines the findings of a report on the impact of ransomware attacks. The report by Keeper Security finds “that nearly all companies affected by ransomware noticed a business-wide ripple effect on budgets, productivity, reputation and security posture. To make matters worse, Keeper found that post-attack security implementations, if in place prior to the ransomware attack, could have prevented most attacks”.

The Keeper Security report was based on a survey of more than 2,000 U.S. professionals, and showed that “93% of respondents noticed budgets tightening in non-security departments after a ransom payment, indicating that an entire organization shoulders the burden of a successful ransomware attack”. This demonstrates the severity of such attacks and the extended timeframes often involved for recovery. Although most security experts do not recommend paying the ransoms, this report showed that 49% of respondents chose to pay the ransom, whilst 22% did not reply, indicating further respondents may also have paid the ransom demanded.

CISCO recommendations to protect yourself from Ransomware:

  1. Back-up all data
  2. Keep systems patches up-to-date
  3. Enable multi-factor authentication
  4. Invest in the security of your network
  5. Structure your network to comprise closed cells to prevent access to all data
  6. Monitor and track network activity to detect abnormalities
  7. Avoid suspicious online communications to reduce chances of initial breach
  8. Reinforce privilege rights including use of two factor authentication at endpoints to further control access
  9. Be proactive – subscribe to relevant services that provide updated information on emerging trends and patterns
  10. Get the best advice – invest in having professionals to assist you in preparing for, responding to and recovering from a breach.

[1] What Is Ransomware? – Definition and Protection Tips – Cisco

[2] Vigliarolo, Brandon; 2021 TechRepublic, July 20, Ransomware fallout is devastating and could often be avoided, study finds – TechRepublic