If you read much in the news — or in tech news specifically — it’s easy to grow a little numb to the constant reporting of digital threats and attacks on businesses. This is especially true if your business has yet to face a cyberattack: your policies and practices have gotten you by so far, so they must be good enough … right?
The truth is, ransomware attacks are a threat, one that businesses like yours must take seriously now, not once you’ve already been attacked.
How Ransomware Attacks Work
Ransomware attacks can start like any other digital threat. Bad actors could go on a phishing expedition and steal the credentials of an unwitting employee. (We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: two-factor or multifactor authentication eliminates the vast majority of phishing threats.)
Or threat actors could identify a vulnerability in your system through more sophisticated computer wizardry.
Whatever way the bad guys find a way in, they take a slower, more methodical approach in a ransomware attack than in a mere data breach.
Usually, they’ll spend days or even weeks quietly exploring your systems from the inside. They’re looking for vulnerabilities, dependencies, weaknesses, and so forth. They’re also quietly changing small settings so that once they execute the attack publicly, everything falls into place for them.
Once they’ve configured things to their liking, they’ll lock your team out of a system using ransomware itself—malicious code that scrambles your data and locks it behind the bad guys’ encryption (and that’s the best-case scenario!).
You’re told that if you pay a certain amount, your access will be restored. If you don’t pay, your data is gone forever — or even sold on the dark web. If you do, the bad actors claim they’ll restore your access. Whether they actually do restore that access (or even have the capability to do so) is an open question.
Are Ransomware Attacks Really That Bad?
Yes, they really are that bad.
Think about which companies are most conscious or aware of ransomware threats: it’s the ones that have already been victimized.
Security conglomerate Kasperksy surveyed 900 senior executives at midsized to large companies, and the results were deeply alarming: for starters, more than 60% of respondents worked for firms that had been caught up in ransomware attacks.
The takeaway from this first stat? No company is immune to this threat.
But even more telling was the response to this question, posed to leaders that had paid ransoms in previous ransomware attacks. The survey asked something along the lines of “would you pay another ransom if you fell victim to another attack?”
A whopping 97% indicated they would.
The disruption to their businesses was so severe, so damaging, that they’d pay again in a heartbeat if it meant getting out of the attack.
The Risk to Your Business
Think about what a ransomware attack could mean for your business. Imagine that attackers gain access to your systems and go unnoticed, quietly making changes for several weeks until one day — bam — everyone in a business unit, or even at your entire company, is locked out.
Worse, what if you’re never able to recover the files you’ve been locked out from?
What if the attackers take that data and sell it to the highest bidder?
What if you pay the ransom, and the attackers don’t actually restore your access? (They haven’t proven themselves to be a very ethical bunch, so you have no real reason to trust their honesty.)
Your business may be smaller than the ones that make the headlines — giant financial firms, regional critical infrastructure businesses, and so on — but you still have systems and data that you depend on, maybe that you couldn’t operate without. Attackers could go after you, too — especially if they determine you’re an easy target with the funds to pay up.
What You Can Do
The best strategy against ransomware attacks is having the right partner for your digital and cybersecurity strategy. Our team has helped dozens of companies craft strategies — including backup and recovery protocols — that make them both resilient and resistant to attack.
We can do the same for you. Reach out today for an introductory consultation!