Every 11 seconds in 2021, someone falls victim to a Ransomware attack in the United States. A phishing email, software vulnerabilities or split-second poor decision that ends in a click can expose a computer. Once the malware is installed, it encrypts the user files and locks the device, demanding a ransom payment for the release of data, and often threatening to release the data publicly or destroy it if the ransom is not paid.
With employees working remotely and outside of business firewalls, ransom attacks are on the rise with one goal: to extort money from the victim. They often succeed- in 2020 the median ransom payment crossed the six-figure threshold. The attacks cross all sectors and industries, with targets ranging from small business to global corporations- every company is a target. Any breach in cyber security can be alarming, ransomware attacks are often truly terrifying as users see a red and black screen demanding payment.
Be prepared to take swift action if your business or employee is the victim of a ransomware attack. These four steps can help your business to survive cyber extortion:
- Stop the spread: Like the spread of any virus, infected devices need to be isolated to from networks, shared storage, and other devices
- Immediately report the data breach: In addition to your IT team, a demand for ransom should also be reported directly to the FBI through their Internet Crime Complaint Center.
- Identify the strain of malware and assess your options: In the majority of cases choices are to pay the ransom, completely wipe and reinstall the system, or isolate and remove the malware. Paying the ransom is usually not the best path- there are no guarantees that encrypted data will be restored and can lead to additional malware.
- Refresh, Restore and Reboot for a fresh start: Move forward bringing the infected device back to the network and into use when the malware has been eliminated and/or the system has been completely reset. The best way to ensure ransomware has been removed is to wipe the infected device and start from scratch reinstalling and formatting hard disks.
Want to avoid the steps above? You can drastically decrease the likelihood that your business will become a ransomware victim with two quick actions:
- Have a professional assessment of your security to determine how your business can lower their risk. Assessments are low cost and can be the best line of defense against future ransomware attacks.
- Work with cybersecurity experts to create a plan for data backup and security, so that in a breach your data cannot be completely lost.
The best way to defeat a ransom attack is to never fall victim to malware- be prepared!