2019 saw a rapid rise in ransomware incidents that have taken down institutions from different industries both in the public and private sector the world over.
Three major web hosting firms have fallen prey to ransomware. In September, Politico.com reported that a wave of ransomware attacks have infected at least 80 state and local government agencies in the United States. Meanwhile, schools have also fallen to this insidious assault, with a study made by cloud security vendor Armor placing the attacks for the first nine of months of the year at about 500 K-12 schools.
As technology progresses and we move further into a world of interconnectivity through the Internet of Things and the launch of 5G, the more vulnerable we will become to such attacks. Statistics show that a new organization will fall victim to ransomware every 14 seconds in 2019, and every 11 seconds by 2021, according to Cyber Security Ventures.
An IBM study suggested that over 25% of all companies would shell out over $20,000 to hackers to retrieve stolen data, that is 1 out of 4. According to a Reuters report, the NotPetya ransomware attack cost FedEx $300 million in the first quarter of 2017. Business Insider placed the revenue generated by hackers through ransomware at over $25 million each year.
It doesn’t look like it’s going to stop any time soon. Recent studies have shown that ransomware attacks are increasing more than 300% year over year, according to dimensiondata.com.
The government has taken notice of the threat. The US Senate has passed the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Cyber Hunt and Incident Response Teams Act. The bill empowers the DHS to maintain teams that would aid both the government and private sectors when dealing with cyberattacks, both as a measure of prevention and as a response team in case of an incident.
Ransomware is now an indelible fact, so before you find yourself in the crosshairs of an attack, remember to ACT.
Alleviate the Threat – Don’t think you’re immune to the threat. Have a plan in place for when you find yourself the victim of an attack. It’s easier to keep a cool head and take the necessary steps if you have a strategy in place. Test it. Don’t skimp on protection. Invest in industry experts and allow them to help you set up a parameter that protects your system and a protocol that lays out what to do to mitigate the damage you will take in case you fall prey to ransomware.
Comprehension Is Key – Understand your system and the flow of data. Are there vulnerabilities that can be exploited by outside parties? What areas need to be bolstered? Take the time to learn what ransomware is, how it operates and what it does. When you understand the threat, the better you will be able to protect against it.
Teach – A company is only as strong as its weakest link. Make sure that everyone that has access to the system understands the threat of ransomware and the security protocols set in place to protect against it. Knowledge is power. Make sure that everyone in the business is on the same page when it comes to system protection. By empowering your employees, you empower yourself.