Ransomware Can Destroy Your Business and Personal Life If You Are Not Prepared

According to the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency, Ransomware is an ever-evolving form of malware designed to encrypt files on a device, rendering any files and the systems that rely on them unusable. Malicious actors then demand ransom in exchange for a decryption key that can unlock the files. Ransomware actors often target and threaten to sell or leak sensitive data or authentication information if the ransom is not paid. Now that you are aware of what ransomware is, we hope to inform you on why it is something you must be vigilant about, how it occurs, how to ensure you are protected, and lastly what to do if you are a victim of ransomware. 

Seriousness of Ransomware

With a ransomware attack every 11-seconds, annual ransomware-induced costs are projected to exceed $20 billion by the end of 2021, according to a Cybersecurity Ventures report. Coveware reported the average cost to pay a ransom is $154,108, with an average downtime of 21 days. Therefore, no matter the size of the organization, resources must be dedicated to building out a plan against these vicious attacks. Learning how to protect your business from ransomware is crucial to defending your critical infrastructure and assets.

How Ransomware Works

Here’s a real-world example of how ransomware works, from the National Institute of Standards and Technology

  • A user is tricked into clicking on a malicious link that downloads a file from an external website.
  • The user executes the file, not knowing that the file is ransomware.
  • The ransomware takes advantage of vulnerabilities in the user’s computer and other computers to propagate throughout the organization.
  • The ransomware simultaneously encrypts files on all the computers, then displays messages on their screens demanding payment in exchange for decrypting the files.

Fortunately, there are several inexpensive but effective measures to put into place. Be sure to consult a cybersecurity Subject Matter Expert to ensure the effectiveness. 

Safeguarding Your Data Systems: 4 Ways to Prevent Ransomware

When it comes to safeguarding your system, you can never be too wary. It is easy to get overwhelmed with all the suggestions and solutions out there, but we are here to help narrow that down with these crucial precautions:

  • Maintain a suitable backup: If you have a backup in place, the ransom attack is measurably less risky. This is where a lot of companies that have been under attack go wrong as they do not have their systems backed up. Ensure that your security professional puts several historic backups from numerous times, lessening the gap between contamination and discovery. 
  • Gage your security program: This immediately will improve your security posture and reduce business risks. A maturity assessment of your organization’s program, based on recognized standards such as the NIST Cybersecurity Framework or ISO 27001, can call out the areas where your security program is performing well and those where improvements are needed. By accompanying this assessment with a multiple-year project roadmap, your assessment partner can help guide your program forward in the ways that will lead to the most rapid and effective advancement. You will be able to close gaps, reduce risk, and increase your cyber resilience. Continuing these assessments in future years will provide new progress markers and provide valuable metrics for executives to follow the program’s advancements.
  • Ensure all systems are fully patched: Failure to patch all computers and software leaves you vulnerable. When your system is patched you can utilize the updated features, fix bugs and stay secure. 
  • Request a cybersecurity assessment: According to the AP, U.S. pipeline operators will be required for the first time to conduct a cybersecurity assessment under a Biden administration directive in response to the ransomware hack that disrupted gas supplies in several states this month.

The Transportation Security Administration now mandates that the owners and operators of the nation’s pipelines report any cyber incidents to the federal government and always have a cybersecurity coordinator available to work with authorities in the event of an attack like the one that shut down Colonial Pipeline. Pipeline companies, which until now operated under voluntary guidelines, could face financial penalties that start at $7,000 per day if they fail to comply with a security directive that reflects an administration focus on cybersecurity that predates the May attack on Colonial, senior Department of Homeland Security officials said.

This is an example of guidelines put in place for one industry, but cyber experts assume that this is a trend we will see more of in the future for all industries, therefore, it is important to go ahead and get your ducks in a row. 

Implement Security Awareness Training

By implementing security awareness and training program you can transform your employees from unwitting targets to human firewalls. Security awareness training will make you an obstacle to hackers rather than a conduit. The initial testing, training, and ongoing testing combine to not only elevate your users’ preparedness but sustain and institutionalize it.

Security maturity and cyber readiness require excellence in people, policy, processes, procedures, and technology. Executives have found that implementing a security awareness program helps them affect the cultural change necessary among personnel. This lowers operations costs and barriers to further improvements in policy, process, and technology.

Training yourself and your employees is the most underspent sector in the cybersecurity industry, yet it holds the most hope in ensuring defense against attacks.

Incident Response

Lastly, if you put all the above measures in place and still fall victim, your response to the incident is crucial. Many organizations are not equipped to handle incidents on their own. Swift and effective response requires experienced security operators. To ensure this, organizations should consider working with an outside resource to create an incident response plan and hire them if an incident occurs.  

Contact Tangible Security

How well can your team detect, prevent, and recover from today’s advanced security threats? Tangible Security is ready to stand with you to provide expert, tailored, and personable cybersecurity consultation. For more information on how we can help your business specifically, please contact Jaquelin Jenkins at jjenkins@tangiblesecurity.com or by cell at 720-375-1551. Let’s make the business you leave behind as strong as what you’ve built.