Accenture, Acer, Colonial Pipeline, JBS Foods. What does this name have in common with each other? These names may be the most successful in the world, but they were also the victims of one of the most serious ransomware attacks in 2020.
These ransomware victims had to face ransom demands up to $50 million and many days of business losses. This is not all. Some hackers may have also published financial and sensitive company information online in order to claim credit for the attack and show the damage they intend to do.
These examples should be enough to show how devastating ransomware attacks could be for any business.
We will be looking at ransomware attacks and how they can cause havoc to large businesses as well as public institutions. We’ll also discuss the best and most practical ways to protect your business and yourself from ransomware attacks.
What is Ransomware Attack?
Let’s first answer the basic questions about ransomware before we dive into the negative effects of ransomware attacks.
Ransomware is malware that encrypts files on a target device. This makes them unavailable to original users until the ransom is paid. Ransomware has become a popular way for malicious threat agents make quick money.
They often threaten their victims with the possibility of losing their files forever, or worse, their data being leaked online. This can cause a huge loss of trust and reputation for businesses.
Ransomware attacks could have severe consequences for businesses. They can result in data loss and downtime. Many organisations have had to pay ransomware attackers large sums of cash, often in cryptocurrency, in order to regain their data.
Ransomware can also spread quickly within an organization, affecting multiple systems and devices. Businesses need to be aware that ransomware can spread quickly through an organisation, affecting multiple devices and systems.
Cyber Management Alliance’s 9-point Ransomware Readyness Checklist can be used to assess how well your company is prepared for a ransomware attack. For businesses who want to prevent ransomware attacks from causing serious damage, a Ransomware Readiness Assessmentt is the best recommendation.
What will a Ransomware attack do to your business?
We’ve already touched on the question briefly, but here’s a closer look at what a ransomware attack could do to small to medium-sized businesses.
1. Business loss: If ransomware encrypts business-critical files (which is likely to happen), your business may have to be shut down for several days or weeks as you attempt to recover your data. The Colonial Pipeline was the same. Due to ransomware attacks, the company shut down its operations and caused gas shortages on the East Coast.
Ransomware attacks can result in lost revenue and loss of customer trust.
2. Ransom Payment: This is the most difficult decision a business will have to make – whether to pay or not the ransom. Although ransom payments are discouraged by many regulatory agencies around the globe, many businesses opt to follow this path because they realize they have no other options.
If you are attacked, you could end up paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for ransom. However, there is no guarantee that your data will be unlocked by the attackers.
The cost of ransomware attacks can vary depending on what type of attack you are facing, how much data is encrypted and what type of business it is. A small business may need to pay only a few hundred dollars for their data to be restored, while large corporations could face millions of ransom payments.
3. Reputational damage: If the news about the attack spreads, your business reputation may be severely damaged. The attack could result in data leakage from your customers and make it difficult for you to retain clients and customers. It may also discourage others from doing business with your company or partnering with you in the future.
4. Regulation Fines: If sensitive customer data is lost or stolen, you could face regulatory fines. This would be an additional financial burden to an already difficult situation.
What can you do to reduce the damage?
To minimize the damage to your brand and bottom line, a well-planned ransomware response strategy and protection strategy are essential. You should have backups of all your data and security measures in place to protect yourself against any attack.
A strong backup and an efficient incident response program are the best ways to protect your company from ransomware attacks. Preparedness is the best thing for ransomware.
Backups can be done using many different methods, so it’s important to choose the right one for you.
An alternative to an off-site backup is to keep your data locally on a server or in the cloud. If you have the ability to manage your backups, this is a great alternative. An alternative option is to use an offline backup service. This allows you to send your backups to another location, usually in the cloud. If you don’t have enough resources or need extra protection, this is the best option.
After you have established backups, you will need to develop a cyber incident response plan. The plan should detail how you will recover your data and what you will do in case of an attack. This Ransomware Response Tool can be downloaded and shared with all stakeholders within your company. This visual workflow helps to eliminate chaos and confusion during a crisis. It also allows everyone to take calculated steps and make informed decisions.