A Lesson In Ransomware

A Lesson In Ransomware

Ransomware is on the rise; you have probably heard that on the news. In fact, the numbers may leave you shocked. In 2020, worldwide ransomware attacks were close to 300 million worldwide.1 The cost of ransom payments demanded by hackers are also increasing at the same time with the increase in attacks. According to a recent projection, the global annual cost of ransomware attacks will touch $20 billion by the end of 2021.2

Ransomware has become more available to criminals that lack technical knowledge with availabilities like ransomware as a service. Unfortunately, these criminals seem less predictable and their "code of ethics" seems to be nonexistent. In the past, threat actors have had businesses they would not touch with ransomware, such as cancer treatment facilities. Anymore, as ransomware becomes more available to less technical offenders, that is not the case.

A ransomware attack can affect any organization, no matter size or industry. However, the most vulnerable are SMBs since cybercriminals count on these businesses to lack the resources to battle cybercrime or the IT teams to frequently evaluate and update cybersecurity measures. Even though SMBs continue to be the premier target of these attacks, it seems to take a huge corporation suffering an attack to be newsworthy.

Ransomware is expected to hit a business every 11 seconds.2 So, it's not IF, but rather WHEN your business will be hit. A devastating breach can be avoided with the right security solutions and measures in place. But first, there are a few things you should know if you experience a ransomware attack.

Before Reacting to a Ransomware Attack, Remember:

  1. The FBI says not to pay a ransom because there is no guarantee the hackers will share the keys to decrypt your data. While the FBI is an American organization, they raise a good point for businesses all across the globe.

    It doesn't make any sense to place your trust in cybercriminals who have already demonstrated that they aren't afraid to break the law and take advantage of you for financial gain. However, many businesses find themselves in this situation because they don't have sufficient security, backup or compliance measures, and are desperate to get their data back.

    Keep in mind that another reason the FBI advises against giving in to ransomware demands is that you are encouraging criminals to conduct further attacks. If nobody ever paid ransom, it's likely there wouldn't be as many ransomware attacks. Criminals would have to find new ways to make money and would disregard ransomware as a viable venture.

  2. In case you fall victim to a ransomware attack and have no option other than paying, "ransomware negotiators" are available for hire.

    In ransomware negotiations, the most crucial moment occurs long before the victim and hackers discuss the ransom. This is because by the time both sides start to discuss, hackers have already gained considerable control over the organization's network by encrypting access to sensitive business data and other digital assets. The more data they encrypt, the greater the negotiating power they have.

    So, even before you begin negotiations, you need to know how much data has been compromised and what negotiating methods have been employed in the past by the criminals. Professional ransomware negotiators can help at this stage. Although a ransomware negotiation rarely results in a ransom demand being totally withdrawn, it can significantly bring down the asking price.

  3. Victims of ransomware should expect the following:
  • The data will not be erased in a trustworthy manner. It will be sold, improperly handled or stored for future extortion attempts.
  • Multiple parties would have handled the exfiltrated data, making it insecure. Even if the hacker deletes a large portion of the data once the ransom is paid, other parties who had access to it may have made duplicates to make payment demands later.
  • Before a victim can respond to an extortion attempt, the data may get leaked either intentionally or inadvertently.
  • Even if the threat actor explicitly promises to release the encrypted data after payment, they may not keep their word.

Make Your Move Before It's Too Late

You're probably wondering what steps you can take right now to combat the menace of ransomware targeting vulnerable systems. Our best recommendation is layered security.

Since no security technology or measure is flawless or guaranteed, layered security assumes that attackers will infiltrate different layers of an organization's defenses or have already done so. The goal of this approach is to provide multiple security measures so that if an attack gets past one security tool, there are others in place to help identify and stop the attack before your data is stolen.

If the idea of protecting your business is overwhelming, don't worry. You don't have to do it alone. Collaborate with an experienced partner like us to do the heavy lifting for you. Our cybersecurity expertise and knowledge will help you pave the way to a more secure future. To get started, contact us for a consultation.

We also invite you to take advantage of our free report "The 7 Most Critical IT Security Protections Every Business Must Have In Place NOW" to learn more about how you can improve your security posture. Click here www.transitionaltechnologies.com/protect/

1. Statista
2. Cybersecurity Ventures