Businesses use online and cloud-based technology to store and better protect their data and assets. However, having your valuable assets online can allow ransomware groups to extort your business for their personal gain. Understanding what ransomware is, the forms it comes in, and how ransomware groups operate can help you keep your assets safe.
What is Ransomware?
Ransomware is a malicious malware that infiltrates a device’s security system to encrypt its files. Attackers can then ask you for a ransom or another demand in exchange for your files. Ransomware can be split into two categories: encrypting and locking. Both types can be downloaded to your device in a variety of ways, for example:
- Clicking on a link through a phishing email
- Downloading a file from an untrusted website
- Drive-by downloading when you enter an unsafe website
- Installed manually from inside the network through an insider attack
Since ransomware targets data and paralyzes systems critical to running your business, it can cost thousands or even millions of dollars to fix. Even with backup available, it’s still costly to fix the systems, restore your backups, and find the vulnerability that caused the attacks, all while ensuring your clients weren’t harmed.
Who is At-Risk for Attacks?
Anyone can be attacked by ransomware, but businesses that don’t have the highest cybersecurity standards are at a higher risk. Having a weak security system makes you an easy target for all types of attacks. In addition, 99 percent of cyberattacks in 2019 occurred because someone was tricked into downloading it. Your security is as strong as its weakest link, including employees not well-versed in cybersecurity.
What Are Ransomware Groups?
Thanks to the anonymity and communication the internet provides, individual attackers can get together to form a ransomware group. Instead of a single attacker creating the malware, finding targets, and initiating the attack, the group divides the work among its members.
These groups often create harder to detect and recover from ransomware while also releasing it on a wider scale, hitting multiple targets at once. That allows them to reap the benefits before security professionals even get the chance to study the malware and fight against it. Usually, the group members share a goal, be it financial or ethical, and agree on their targets.
How Do They Work?
Thanks to their larger number, ransomware groups are often able to simultaneously work at different locations, poking at their target from various avenues and hoping to find the best way in. For example, one or more of the members could be employees or contractors at your business, allowing them and their group easy access to your network.
More recently, ransomware groups haved formed alliances with other groups with shared goals. On average, groups cost victims $100,000 per attack, while some targeted companies had to pay millions. Having multiple groups of experienced hackers working together increases the attack’s footprint and overall reach.
How Can Businesses Protect Themselves?
The rise in ransomware attacks and groups naturally generates a flood of cybersecurity experts putting in the work to keep your data private. There are also many ways you can protect yourself from an attack:
- Staff Education– Having staff members who are aware of social engineering schemes and keep their devices safe is crucial to keeping your business safe.
- Secure Endpoints– Endpoints are direct access points to your network if left unchecked. It’s vital to secure them and monitor them for incoming and outgoing data.
- Employ Access Control– Limiting staff access to just what they need reduces the risk of cyberattacks, especially ones where hackers infiltrate your business as employees or contractors.
- Network Fragmentation– Splitting your network into various smaller sub-networks allows you to isolate the infected part in case of an attack to limit the damage. It will also allow you to focus a more significant portion of your efforts on protecting the most vulnerable parts of your network.
- Hiring Professionals– Look into companies that protect against ransomware and employ their services. After all, they are the experts in ransomware detection and prevention and can help you protect your business.
Get All the Help You Can
If attackers are grouping and helping each other out, you, too, should ask for help from your IT team and security professionals. It’s unrealistic to want to win a fight against allied groups of hackers on your own. Staying on top of cybersecurity trends and getting the best options to protect your business. There are many cybersecurity professionals who help companies if you’re willing to invest in your business’s cybersecurity.