In March 2018, the city of Atlanta, Georgia became the victim of a massive cyberattack. The attack was notable as it was one of the largest successful breaches of security, potentially affecting up to 6 million people as the city refused to pay the ransom amount. The attack cost the city around $17 million for the entire IT overhaul.
Ransomware is a type of malicious software that encrypts files or systems and blocks user access to those files or systems. The attackers demand ransom to restore access to data. Ransomware market has grown drastically over the last decade and individuals and businesses need to protect themselves.
They Can Do That?
Ransomware penetrates the system in many ways and the most common are download via spam email attachment. Other forms include social engineering, downloads of the malicious software from the web, clicking on “malvertising,” fake ads, drive-by-download attacks, and social media messaging.
Once the malware enters the system, it encrypts the files and makes it inaccessible for the user until the victim pays the ransom in exchange for the decryption key. According to city officials of Las Vegas, the city faces an average of 279,000 attempts to breach its systems every month.
But That Wouldn’t Happen To Me, Right?
The cyberattack frequency is skyrocketing, leaving behind countless victims. According to a recent report by Beazley Breach Response Services, about 70 percent of ransomware attacks in 2018 targeted small businesses, with an average ransom demand of $116,000.
Attackers these days are focussing more on small businesses as they are less likely to invest in cybersecurity software, the staff is not well versed to handle such attacks and resources are limited compared to big companies. The majority of small businesses and organizations prefer to pay money rather than try to recover their data in some other way.
What Can I Do?
According to the FBI, every 40 seconds a ransomware attack is launched. To protect against these attacks individuals and business can following steps:
● Backup of the Data in the External Hard drive: As a good practice, organizations should perform frequent backups on an external hard drive. This exercise will not stop attacks but will reduce the damage.
● Invest in a good software: It is good to invest in an efficient ransomware protection software like Carbon Black’s which can detect malicious programs like ransomware.
● Patch Management: It is important to keep the applications and operating systems updated with the latest updates.
● Think Before Clicking: If you receive an email with the attachments from an unknown source, don’t open as these might contain executables which can be ransomware or a virus.
● Train Your Employees and Educate Yourself: It is good to be updated about the recent trends in cybersecurity. Companies and individuals often fall victim to ransomware because of a lack of training and education.
Be Aware Of Ransomware
According to a Wired report, in 2019 the direct damage from ransomware attacks exceeded $12 billion and the actual ransom money paid was higher than $5 billion. With rising ransomware attacks, individuals and organizations need to stop being complacent and invest in a strong ransomware protection software that can protect them from new and emerging ransomware threats.