Data security experts predict ransomware will be a major threat in 2021 — and with the global average cost of a ransomware attack at $761,106, cybersecurity is a worthwhile investment.
How can your organization avoid becoming a ransomware statistic? We’ve got the basics below, plus an in-depth dive in our whitepaper, “The Rise in Ransomware: Preparing for a Potential Attack.”
What is ransomware and how does it work?
Ransomware is a type of malicious software that takes a victim’s files hostage via encryption, preventing the victim from accessing their files. The hacker will then demand a ransom payment in exchange for an encryption key that releases the stolen files — allegedly.
There are several ways that ransomware can infiltrate a system, but the most common one is through a phishing attack. In a phishing attack, the victim — often an employee of a targeted organization — will receive a convincing email or message that appears to be from a trusted organization or coworker. However, attached to the email is an unsuspecting file containing the malware. Once opened, the ransomware infects the computer, and may even trick the user into granting administrative access.
Who is at risk for a ransomware attack?
Anyone with a computer connected to the internet can be a victim of ransomware, although hackers tend to hone in on employees of larger organizations to gain access to sensitive information. With more employees than ever working remotely—and outside of their organization’s protected network—the current work landscape is a cyberthief’s dream come true.
Ransomware hackers target a wide range of data, from personally identifiable information to operational systems. In 2020, Honda was forced to shut down its manufacturing plants after a ransomware attack rendered their assembly line inoperable. The entire city of Atlanta was brought to its knees by a ransomware attack that interfered with its court systems, kept citizens from paying their water bills, and forced the Atlanta Police Department to return to paper-based reports for days on end.
How to prevent a ransomware attack
Like many malware attacks, ransomware is avoidable with the right data security measures. Here are just a few of the ways you can avoid falling victim to ransomware:
- Educate your employees. Training your employees in cybersecurity best practices can help them spot potential phishing attempts and other cyberthreats.
- Stay up to date on security patches. To reduce vulnerabilities, keep your operating system updated on the latest patches.
- Back up your data. Frequent, automatic updates won’t prevent ransomware, but they may help you access files in the event of an attack.
- Invest in cybersecurity insurance. In the event that you are the victim of ransomware, insurance may cover the cost of the ransom and other damages.
- Never pay cybercriminals. Data shows that giving in and paying the ransom can actually double the cost of dealing with an attack.
- Create a defense-in-depth security strategy. An effective defense is one with multiple layers of protection, from employee training to encryption and more.
- Never allow clear-text data to enter your system. Make sure to encrypt or tokenize all data so that it renders sensitive information useless in the event of an attack. Otherwise, hackers may use your data to force you to pay ransom.
Protect your data from ransomware
Even the most advanced organizations are susceptible to a ransomware attack. Download our latest white paper to learn more about the latest threat vectors and how you can protect your payment and consumer data from a ransomware attack with point-to-point encryption (P2PE) and tokenization.
Interested in our data security solutions? Get in touch with a Bluefin representative today.