Impact of Ransomware on Businesses

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Whether small, medium-sized, or large, companies have been victims of ransomware attacks for decades now. If you’re not following proper security procedures and etiquette, you might be a victim of such an attack. But what is ransomware actually, and what impact does it have on businesses?

What Is Ransomware?

Ransomware is, as its name suggests, a combination of two words: ransom and malware. This means that this type of virus disables users from accessing their network and system. When a company is targeted by a ransomware attack, they can only regain access to their data after paying a ransom, which usually needs to be done within 24 or 48 hours after the incident. 

Types of Ransomware

Unfortunately, there are numerous types of ransomware and ways a hacker can find their way into their victim’s system. To help you get familiarized with them so you can know what to expect in advance, we’ll tell you a word or two about the most common types of ransomware:

  • Phishing emails – Receiving emails that look so legitimate that the user proceeds to click on them and follow the cues in them is probably the most frequent way people get scammed. These fake emails will usually dump malware on the person’s computer and exploit security loops in the system. 
  • Scareware – Scareware can usually be witnessed in the form of a pop-up message from a security company that claims there’s some malware on your computer. The only way to solve the issue is to pay up. Although a common ransomware type, it’s harmless most of the time.
  • Screen-lock ransomware – If you’ve ever noticed that a window appeared on your screen and locked you out of your computer, you’ve been a victim of a ransomware attempt. This method will usually tell the user they need to pay a fine because there’s been some suspicious activity on their system.
  • Encrypting ransomware – This is the most dangerous ransomware type as the criminal will usually get access to the whole system if they successfully scam the victim. They will use the public key and encrypt the symmetric key, which will block the victim’s access to their data.
  • Doxware/leakware – Doxware is the least harmful ransomware type. The attacker will usually threaten to publish your private data online unless you pay up. In such cases, you only need to dismiss the bluff.

Why Worry About Ransomware?

Cyberattacks and ransomware are nothing new in the industry as they’ve been around since the 80s. Then, the ransom had to be paid by post, whereas nowadays, criminals and hackers ask for the payment to be made with a credit card, or even cryptocurrency. They’ve been making headlines for years now, and there’s a reason. Because there is a ransomware attack happening every 11 seconds, the losses which the companies can face annually have been projected to be around $10.5 trillion. This isn’t a small number, especially if you’re an owner of a serious company, because you’re looking at a significant financial impact on your business.

But the financial loss isn’t the only issue you can be facing when a ransomware attack strikes you. For example, a ransomware attack in 2017 targeted the National Health Service, among other victims. The attack is thought to have affected around 70,000 devices (e.g., blood-storage refrigerators, MRI scanners, etc.), which has led to 19,000 canceled appointments and a loss of a staggering $92 million. This means that not only small and medium-sized businesses can be affected.

Another example of this is the Kaseya attack, in which the giant in the MSP industry was a victim of ransomware. More than 60 customers and 1,500 downstream businesses were attacked. The attackers demanded a $70 million payment to unlock all files to Kaseya customers.

For more impacts ransomware can have on organizations, check out the table below, which contains the numbers from the 2021 CyberReason Ransomware Research:

Ransomware ImpactOutcome
Loss of revenue66% of organizations that were victims of ransomware attacks had faced a loss of business revenue.
Reputation damage53% of attacked organizations had their reputation and brand damaged due to a successful attack. 
Loss of C-Level Personnel32% of organizations lost numerous C-level talents due to ransomware attacks.
Employee Layoffs29% of attacked organizations had to lay off employees due to financial loss caused by the ransomware attacks.
Business closures26% of organizations were forced to close down their business for some time or, in some cases permanently, after falling victim to ransomware attackers.

Although the numbers in the table above mainly depend on the company’s location, the numbers are still huge. To make things worse, paying the ransom doesn’t guarantee you’ll get your data back, and there were numerous cases where even cyber insurance couldn’t help companies get out of the gutter after the attack. That’s why having adequate security policies, trained personnel, and taking steps into improving your security measures is crucial if you want to stay safe in the modern era.

Preventing Ransomware Attacks

If you want to prevent ransomware attacks, you need to take some security measures, such as:

  • Backing up data – When you back up data on an external drive, cloud storage, you are essentially foolproofing it against any cyber or ransomware attacks. This method doesn’t prevent the attacks themselves, but it gives you the option to recover the files without paying the ransom. For backing up data, you can use software such as Azure Cloud, which can also serve you as a secondary location for storing business-critical data.
  • Adding additional layers of security – While having a cloud backup lets you recover lost files and reduce downtime, it isn’t a proper security measure against ransomware. If you add additional layers of security, such as encryption, multi-factor authentication (MSA), or even endpoint protection, you will be safer and have fewer loopholes in your system. If you opt for this method, be sure to use the latest software since the older versions are obsolete against cyberattacks.
  • Training your employees – Having educated employees who know what to look for in case of ransomware means that they’re less likely to fall for any phishing or hacking attempts. You should train them on topics such as:
    • Detecting ransomware
    • Having strong passwords
    • Distinguishing legitimate sources, emails, links, etc. 

For more information on how to avoid cyber attacks or save your company from potential financial losses or disasters by practicing sound security habits, check out the articles we wrote on the topics.

If you want to embed proper cyber security into your infrastructure, you should also consider partnering with a Managed Service Provider (MSP). Companies that provide such services, ourselves included, can take proactive measures to solve any issue you might have with ransomware, threat detection, etc.

Closing Word

At the end of the day, if you have a proper security system set in place, ransomware shouldn’t keep you up at night. As technology advances by the day, there are more resources and techniques to battle this modern-day nuisance. Still, it is something that should be carefully dealt with, as the consequences can be disastrous for your business.

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