Ransomware: Cybersecurity’s Biggest Bully Yet – Aiming at Small Business

Can you imagine logging into your system to access your business data and being unable to do so? 

Unfortunately, an increasing number of businesses around the world are living this nightmare with countless others coming in the line of fire, including yours. 

Ransomware is growing rapidly and crippling businesses worldwide, making up 27 percent of all malware incidents in 2020.

 Ransomware is a type of malicious software that gains access to files or systems on your network and blocks your access to them until you pay a ransom in exchange for a decryption key.

Sounds pretty serious, but why are we calling it cybersecurity’s biggest bully yet? 

Keep reading to know all about its history, destructive impact and dangerous growth and how it can affect even your business.

Three Decades of Bullying and Counting

Modern-day ransomware developers have come a long way since the first incidents in the late 80s. While early ransomware developers developed the encryption code on their own, today’s attackers use existing libraries, locking up servers and data in exchange for payment from businesses large and small alike. 

Through their three-decade long existence, ransomware attacks have only gone from strength to strength. While older threats reemerging is always a possibility, newer ones such as NotPetya and MAZE are constantly looking to take advantage of lapses in the cybersecurity defenses of companies worldwide.

How Ransomware Runs Your Business Into the Ground

Besides being the reason behind 41 percent of cyber insurance claims in the first half of 20202 alone, the repercussions of a ransomware attack aren’t limited to just financial loss. In fact, a ransomware attack can grind your business to a halt and cause severe damage on multiple fronts.

Here’s how ransomware can literally choke the life out of your business’ present and future.

Loss or destruction of critical business data

Your company’s data is the proverbial thread that strings various facets of your business together. Should your data become inaccessible, go missing or be destroyed, the damage can be catastrophic. Once lost, fully recovering data and knowledge is a herculean task and getting things back to some state of normalcy is an enormous exercise in itself.

Unplanned downtime

As of Q1 of 2020, the average downtime due to a ransomware attack is 16 days. The very thought of businesses not being able to progress for weeks on end is sure to give any owner sleepless nights. Unfortunately, this is the grim reality that numerous businesses, especially small and medium-sized ones, are grappling with.

Loss of productivity

Efficiency is key to any business’ success and is a proven way of keeping customers happy while keeping costs low. But do you know what happens when productivity takes a massive hit? Ask British pharmaceutical and CPG maker Reckitt Benckiser, which lost $140 million due to disrupted production and supply chains, courtesy the NotPetya ransomware.

Just goes to show you that time really is money!

Disruption of business in the post-attack period

Paying ransom to retrieve data access is one thing but making a full recovery after a ransomware attack can prove difficult. The downtime following an attack is so profound that it leaves businesses in shambles for weeks on end, making recuperation and recovery incredibly painstaking.

Erie County Medical Center (New York, USA) went through a six-week ordeal of manual operations and a recovery process costing $10 million after losing access to 6,000 computers due to a ransomware attack.

Damage to hostage systems, data and files

There’s no guarantee that you will recover your data in its original state even after paying ransom. Certain crucial servers, data, software and files could be severely or permanently damaged by a ransomware attack and it goes without saying that retrieving them while running daily operations becomes a mammoth challenge.

Loss of reputation

The expression “once bitten, twice shy” is most appropriate when describing the behavior of customers and companies towards a business hit by a ransomware attack. Despite making a recovery, your business could receive a cold shoulder from the market until you rebuild your reputation – a task that could take years of hard work.

A Bully Getting Stronger by the Day

With the possibility of an organization falling prey to ransomware every 11 seconds by 20214, this cybersecurity bully isn’t getting any weaker. In fact, attackers are coming up with newer ways to extort money, such as exfiltrating data and threatening to release it over the Internet if the ransom is not paid. The attackers behind the Maze ransomware, which surfaced in May 2019, adopted this methodology, while new ransomware such as Sodinokibi, Nemty and Clop seem to be following suit.

Most importantly, there’s no guarantee that you will regain access to your files even after paying the ransom. Only 26 percent of organizations hit by ransomware got their data back after paying a ransom. Moreover, for organizations that did pay the ransom, the average cost to rectify the damage was nearly $1.45 million while the average cost for organizations that did not was $732,520.

This is a wakeup call for all businesses, regardless of size.

A Weak Defense Equals Surrender

Most organizations, especially small and medium-sized businesses, either assume that they will never experience a ransomware attack or that their cyber insurance will bail them out by paying the ransom. While the former is a misconception that needs to be done away with, the latter is still a possibility, but only if your cyber insurance covers ransomware. While 84 percent of businesses have cyber insurance, only 64 percent have policies covering ransomware.

Remember, a weak defense against ransomware is tantamount to leaving your business’ future in the lurch.

You no longer have the time or the liberty to put off investing in best-in-class cybersecurity solutions that can help you adopt a preventative approach towards fighting ransomware. 

Having CRS Networks as a trusted MSP partner will make it easy for you to adopt best practices such as endpoint security and backup, identity and access management, automated phishing defense, Dark Web monitoring, and security awareness training.

While no one can ever guarantee 100 percent protection against ransomware, there’s a lot you can do currently to build a resolute defense against it. Get in touch with us and let’s talk about how you can ward off cybersecurity’s biggest bully before it puts your business’ future in jeopardy.