The global digital transformation impacts all businesses. Together with new opportunities, data-driven workflow brings new challenges. Information security is one of them.
Modern small and medium businesses depend on the safety of their digital data. However, there are many security threats. Ransomware is one of the most dangerous of them. So let’s discuss ransomware and protection against it.
What Is Ransomware?
Ransomware is a virus that blocks your computer/network. Cybercriminals use ransomware to seize your data and demand a ransom to return it. Access to your data is blocked using various encryption techniques. You can’t read or use encrypted data, and hackers offer to decrypt your files after you pay them. In some cases, hackers steal your files before encryption.
Ransomware attacks often target SMBs. Business data is valuable, and it’s easy to extort money for decrypting it. However, individual users and big companies are targeted as well. Ransomware can be spread in different ways. They include phishing attacks, corrupted SaaS applications, system exploits, or infected hardware.
Criminals use various ways to create a sense of insecurity and force a victim to pay. However, paying a ransom is not the best solution. You have no guarantee that criminals will decrypt your files after the payment.
Furthermore, paying up doesn’t guarantee that no ransomware attack will happen in the future—quite the contrary. Hackers usually have a list of companies willing to pay a ransom. Such companies are likely to get targeted again.
Ransomware can attack not just on-premise environments, but cloud services like Gmail and Google Drive as well. Cloud data is vital for businesses and should be protected. Google Drive ransomware protection measures include having a backup, using detection tools, and conducting an app risk assessment.
Why are several security measures required? Don’t keep all eggs in one basket. Some of the modern ransomware strains can bypass antiviruses or encrypt backups. A multi-layered approach will help you to protect your files in the cloud.
Why Is Ransomware Protection Important?
Though hackers demand significant sums for decryption, the ransomware danger is more far-reaching. Letting ransom alone, attacks result in other direct or indirect damages. Needless to say that business reputation suffers as well. Let’s take a close look at losses ransomware can inflict.
Avoiding Ransomware-related Costs
Apart from ransom, an infection comes along with various other costs. Some of them are more significant, some are less, yet all of them can be disastrous for a small business. On average, recovery from a ransomware attack costs $84,116 and continues to grow.
First and foremost, ransomware means high downtime costs. With business-critical files encrypted, the whole system is paralyzed. In other words, all business processes will be disrupted until the system is restored to its normal state. But your company still has to pay its bills.
Also, ransomware recovery may be quite costly. Depending on circumstances, you may need to hire a team of specialists or delegate the clean-up to your IT team, which will postpone other tasks. Anyway, ransomware recovery costs may be high. To reduce them, you can use specialized software like a backup with granular recovery.
Many businesses, especially in highly-regulated industries like financial services or healthcare, need to follow compliance requirements. Regulations like HIPAA, GDPR, FISMA, and many others focus on the safety of sensitive information. The inability to provide appropriate security measures results in hefty fines and penalties.
Ransomware attack makes the company’s data unavailable for its legitimate owners. Hackers, on the contrary, have access to confidential information of an attacked company and its customers. Compromise records can be viewed or, for example, sold on the darknet. In other words, a ransomware attack can get the privacy of your customer data violated.
Long story short, having your data lost or stolen due to a ransomware attack may indicate the lack of required attention to security and, therefore, non-compliance. And the cost of non-compliance is high. For example, violating GDPR may result in the fine up to 20 million euros ($22.56 million), or up to 4% of annual turnover.
Protecting Your Reputation
In some industries, building trust takes years. A ransomware attack can shatter it within days. Though hard to calculate, reputational damages should be taken into account. After all, reputation is one of the key factors of success in a highly-competitive business environment.
Let’s try to estimate the scale of reputational damages. The survey shows that 87% of consumers are willing to walk away and take their business elsewhere in case of a data breach. A ransomware attack is even more disastrous than a traditional data breach. Information is not only stolen by hackers, but encrypted and, in some cases, unrecoverable.
In other words, ransomware attacks lead to lost revenues. Customers will leave, disappointed by the lack of security. Plus, if the system is infected, sales can be stopped for a while. Needless to say, that if a ransomware-damaged company’s services are unavailable, the potential customers will look for an alternative. And competitors are always there.
What Can You Do Against Ransomware?
You may think that the only correct answer is hiring a team of cybersecurity professionals. Sure, it’s a great way to protect your data. However, it’s hardly possible for small companies. But don’t worry. Many effective anti-ransomware measures do not require in-depth technical knowledge or significant financial resources.
To prevent your systems from being damaged with ransomware, you’ll need to:
- Avoid visiting suspicious websites or installing extensions from unverified publishers
- Create a ransomware response plan. The plan will help you to identify actions your company will take in case of an attack
- Update your antivirus software regularly
- Keep your data backed up and use ransomware disaster recovery tools
- Check your emails and ensure they are from the intended sender. Do not click links in suspicious emails
- Implement strong password policies
- Ensure that you use safe SaaS applications
- Do not connect your business devices to public Wi-Fi networks
With these simple tips, you can protect your business for the ransomware threat and greatly reduce the probability of being hacked.