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Threat Level Rising: What You Need to Know About Ransomware.

Threat Level Rising: What You Need to Know About Ransomware.
October 17, 2018

Simple tools. Ominous results. Ambitious cyber criminals launched devastating ransomware attacks in 2017, including WannaCry and NotPetya, disrupting businesses across Europe and around the world.

According to the European Commission, the economic impact of cyber crime rose five-fold from 2013 to 2017, and could increase another four-fold by 2019.[1] It is not easy to bounce back from cyber attacks, so it’s important to understand the risks and take steps now to protect your business.

What is ransomware?

Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts all of the files on a computer hard drive and demands ransom for an unlocking code. Small- to midsized businesses (SMBs) are becoming a favourite target of cybercriminals with ransomware. Ransomware cost European SMBs nearly €80 million in downtime in 2017.[2] 

Ransomware is simple and devastatingly effective

Criminals like ransomware because it’s efficient and easy to deliver. CyberScout estimates that 59 to 97 percent of ransomware attacks enter through emails with malicious links and attachments. All hackers need is an unsuspecting individual to click on a link or open an attachment to unleash infection.

SMBs are particularly vulnerable because they spend less on cyber security initiatives and are often unprepared to defend against an attack. The average ransom request in Europe last year was between €394 and €1655[3], and criminals are confident that business victims will pay quickly to minimise network downtime and damage to reputation. Indeed, a 2018 report found 53% of executives paid a hacker's ransom following a cyberattack.[4]

Small and midsized businesses can be easy targets

Consider these statistics:

  • Organisations across the EU suffer more than 4,000 ransomware attacks every day.[5]
  • 40% of UK companies experienced ransomware attacks. In Germany, 70% of companies were targeted and in France 59% of businesses suffered.[6]
  • 87% of Europeans think cybercrime challenges the EU’s internal security.[7]
  • According to a survey by Duff & Phelps, 86% of European, U.S. and Japanese financial services firms planned to spend more on cybersecurity in 2017.[8] 

Be proactive: Six things you can do now to fortify your defences against ransomware

Cybercriminals don’t discriminate. If you rely on data to do business, then your company is a target for a ransomware attack. Take these preventive measures now to protect your business:

1.      Stay informed. Keep current with the latest security news so you can protect your company’s systems from new vulnerabilities and outbreaks.
2.      Back up files regularly. Decide on the appropriate frequency and ensure backups are separate from the computers and networks you’re backing up.
3.      Educate and train your employees. Teach employees how to spot suspicious emails and remind them to avoid clicking links without knowing the who, what, where, and why.
4.      Keep all software current. Make sure you have the latest versions and updates instaled for antivirus, antimalware, and other software systems. Ransomware can exploit vulnerabilities in any type of software if patches aren’t kept up to date. 
5.      Implement protective policies. Strengthen email spam philtres, authenticate inbound email, and philtre executable files from reaching end users. For added defence, consider partnering with a provider of identity management and cyber security services.
6.      Be prepared. Create a response plan in case you do fall victim to an attack. You’ll need to regain control of your systems, delete infected files, run a scan, and restore the system to a previous state. Download clean versions of files from your backup.

See our infographic here

Add CyberScout to your defence arsenal

Be proactive and vigilant to protect your business from cybercrime. Educate yourself and your employees about attacks and understand how infection spreads. Take preventive measures for all business systems including mobile devices and cloud applications. For additional protection, seek assistance from CyberScout—an expert cyber security partner providing the education, resources, products and services needed to defend your business against advanced attacks.

CyberScout®—We’ll take it from here.™

CyberScout is leading the charge against hackers and thieves, providing identity management, credit monitoring and cyber security for more than 17.5 million households and 770,000 businesses. Contact your bank, credit union, insurance company or employer to find out if they offer comprehensive identity monitoring.

[2] “Ransomware costs European SMEs £71M in downtime, reveals report,” Information Age, Nick Ismail, 12 February 2018.

[3] Information Age

[4] “53% of execs pay a hacker’s ransom. Are businesses losing the cybersecurity battle?” TechRepublic, Alison DeNisco Rayome, 12 June 2018.

[5] Remarks by Robin Wainwright, Europol Director, at the 2017 Lisbon Web Summit.

[6] “Ransomware Is Costing UK Companies £346 Million per Annum to Their Bottom Line, SentinelOne, 27 March 2018.

[8] “Finance firms to spend more on security as concern over cyber crime soars,” The Telegraph,  Lucy Burton, 5 April 2017.

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