How Ransomware is the Biggest Threat to Business Owners
According to UK government figures, nearly 40% of businesses experienced cyber-attacks during 2022.
Cyber-attacks are a real concern for business owners in the UK and globally. One of the main strategies cybercriminals look to exploit when attacking UK businesses is by using ransomware. In this article, we will explain exactly what ransomware is, how you and your workforce can identify ransomware and what security measures you need to put in place to protect your business.
- Ransomware is a type of cyber-attack where hackers take control of a victim’s systems and data and demand payment to restore access.
- Refusal to pay the ransom may lead to reputational damage, loss of trust, and possible fines from regulatory authorities.
- Effective ransomware prevention techniques include threat assessment, endpoint security, endpoint detection and response (EDR), and good security practices.
- Endpoint Security Monitoring and EDR are solutions that can use advanced AI to detect and respond to threats, leaving the malware no opportunity to access the device.
- Human error remains the biggest threat to cybersecurity, making regular training and strong policies essential to safeguard your business against ransomware and other forms of malware.
What Is Ransomware?
While most types of cyber-attack are aimed at stealing money directly from the victim, whether by tricking employees or by gaining access to a company’s financial systems, ransomware works in a more indirect way. Here, hackers gain control of the victim’s systems and data, locking the victim out.
This is similar to a Distributed Denial of Service (DDS), but with a different aim. Where a DDS is normally conducted for ideological reasons or out of malice, ransomware is aimed at forcing the victim to pay the criminals to restore access.
Ransomware has a major effect on the direct victim, but its impact may be a good deal wider. If the victim is part of a supply chain, then the whole chain could be disrupted. In addition, the data stolen will almost certainly include confidential information about the victim’s trading partners.
What Is the Cost of Ransomware?
Companies who refuse to pay the ransom may find it difficult to continue trading, especially if they don’t have up-to-date back-ups.
In addition, hackers may well sell customer or employee data on the dark web. The fallout from this can lead to a major loss of trust and reputation, as well as possible fines if the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) feels there’s been any security negligence.
Some companies, therefore, feel they have no choice but to pay the ransom, but there are risks in this. There’s no guarantee that the hackers will honour the agreement, and even if they do, they may well have retained copies of the data for future criminal use.
The financial loss from a ransomware attack will vary, depending on the size of the business involved, but it can be considerable.
IBM’s Cost of a Data Breach 2022 report estimated the average cost of a data breach as $4.35 million.
“In total 83% of organisations studies had experienced more than one data breach”.
Ransomware Attack Prevention and Solutions
Fortunately, there are effective ways of strengthening your ransomware attack prevention techniques. These principally involve threat assessment, endpoint security, endpoint detection and response (EDR), and good security practices.
It’s difficult to prevent ransomware attacks without understanding where the threat is coming from. The first stage of any cyber security campaign should be a comprehensive assessment of threats and vulnerabilities. This may involve both technical vulnerabilities and a lack of training for your people in recognising and avoiding threats.
Endpoint Security Monitoring
We’re all used to having an anti-virus solution to protect our devices, but that isn’t enough on its own to protect your business from ransomware and other types of malware. An anti-virus solution may leave the slightest gap between the detection of the malware and blocking it, and this could be all it needs to embed itself. From there, it can infect your whole network.
Endpoint Security Monitoring is a solution that can use advanced AI to uncover threats and then respond at machine speed, leaving the malware no opportunity to access the device. The state-of-the-art solution is SentinelOne Managed Detection and Response (MDR) software, which prevents attacks, detects and contains threats, and provides remediation and rollback.
Endpoint Detection and Response
Closely related is Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR), which secures the entry points to the devices your people use. While this has always been vital, the rise of remote working and employees bringing their own devices into the workplace have made it harder than ever to keep the network secure.
EDR achieves this by taking a proactive, rather than reactive, approach. For example, it can detect zero-day attacks and similar threats in real-time, then analyse, block, and contain them. Even if you’ve managed to keep all your IT devices in house, EDR can vastly improve your cyber security, while a more typical situation of widely distributed devices makes it absolutely essential.
Good Security Practices
While cutting-edge security software, such as EDR and MDR, will make your cyber systems considerably safer, the biggest threat remains human error. The Verizon 2022 Data Breach Investigations Report found that 69% of public administration breaches came from social engineering attacks, manipulating employees into acts like downloading an infected attachment or visiting an infected website.
Clearly, in order to safeguard your business against ransomware and other forms of malware, it’s essential that all your people, from the CEO to the newest recruit, are trained to recognise and respond to threats appropriately. This requires strong policies and procedures, as well as a culture that rewards taking care.
It also requires a robust programme of training about cyber security issues, including both initial orientation and regular refreshers that include new developments.
We Can Help Protect your Business
Alliance Solutions can provide a wide range of IT support, including ransomware attack protection software, such as MDR and EDR, that will protect you from becoming part of the statistic. We’ll also provide a comprehensive training programme, to minimise the risk of your employees letting the ransomware in.
Get in touch with us to find out how we can protect you against ransomware.