Ransomware - What is it and how can you help prevent it?

Ransomware is the number one malware threat to businesses around the world. But do you know exactly what it is, and what you can do to help prevent it? Read our blog to find out more.

What is it? 

Ransomware is still the number one malware threat to businesses around the world, perhaps you’ve heard of (hopefully not experienced) Cryptolocker or Wannacry, these being the 2 most prolific variants in recent years.

What does it do?

Ransomware is exactly as the name suggests, the attacker locks down your PC’s and/or server, encrypting any data they have been able to infiltrate and requests a sum of money from you, holding you to ransom, before they will hand this invaluable information and ultimately your business back to you - not that there’s any guarantee they will.

They are criminals after all!

Attacking Windows PC’s and Windows Servers as their top priority, with SaaS (web-based software) attacks on the rise, Microsoft 365, Dropbox and Google Workspace make up the top 3 SaaS application targets currently.

Attacks are rarely limited to a sole computer, as malware is designed to route through business networks quickly, meaning numerous computers, servers and SaaS applications can be infected and encrypted in a very short space of time. This makes restores difficult and extremely time consuming. Unsurprisingly, the aftermath of a ransomware attack can be devastating to businesses, with productivity hit to a level some businesses struggle to recover from.

The Cost to Business

Average ransom requests are thought to be in the region of £4,000-£5,000, often 50 times less than the overall cost to a business, not to mention the worry and anxiety an attack such of this can cause a business owner and its employees and can and often does lead many businesses paying ransom requests in order to return to normal quicker.

During the pandemic some MSP’s also reported an increase in Ransomware attacks, although not an overwhelming increase one worth noting as the increased risks were generally associated with companies allowing employees to utilise their own personal devices, known as BYOD or Bring your own Device, where increased risks can be attributed to more careless use and security vulnerabilities, as well as sector specific increases, shamelessly targeted due to their already increased vulnerability, healthcare, for example came top of the target list, with finance and insurance coming in a close second.

The Perceived Risk

Despite the statistics there is still a large disconnect between MSP’s and SMB’s in what they believe the real risk is, with most MSP’s stating that businesses should be ‘very concerned’ about the threat of Ransomware, in contrast to 30% of business owners feeling the same way, is it a case of it won’t happen to me or my MSP just wants to sell me more unnecessary software? Whatever the misconception we urge all of our clients and readers to take Malware threats seriously, there are many unscrupulous people out there who won’t think twice to make you or someone you know their next target, so it is wise to understand the threat and solutions available to reduce the risk by discussing with your MSP/IT support company and only then can you make the informed next step to protecting your business.

How to protect your company

Let’s start with employee education. Anti-malware, anti-virus and email blockers -are they enough? Well, the truth is they all help and do play an important part in protecting your business but sadly none of these solutions will rid us entirely of the threat Ransomware poses. As like the flu virus that infects the human population, year upon year, with medical experts working to produce vaccines to keep up with this, attackers frequently modify their malware to avoid detection by anti-malware/virus software which, like a vaccine, can struggle to keep up and is why a good MSP will recommend a multi-layered approach.

To explain security software such anti-malware/virus software and education help prevent attacks before they happen and of course prevention is better than cure, but as stated above they are not bullet proof and it is the Business Continuity solutions that add the extra layer of assistance to help businesses resume normal operations quickly, if security measures fail. Discussing and deploying a business continuity strategy is paramount to keep your business moving by enabling data recovery locally or from the cloud with ease.

In addition, solutions that allow employees to get back to work quickly following an attack should also be considered as an essential part of your security network, these include end point protection (protection on each device used be it a PC, laptop or server), and back up services.

It is worth noting that 91% of managed service providers, reported that businesses with Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery solutions in place are less likely to experience significant and damaging downtime as a result of a Ransomware attack.

Talk to us today about your current security and business continuity strategy and how we can help improve this.