Security professionals and cyber criminals are in a never-ending race to outdo one another, as a digitalized world means new threats are always a possibility.
There has been plenty of coverage concerning cyberattacks and data theft over the past several decades. Most recently, credit monitoring giant Equifax announced that a web application vulnerability allowed hackers to access the personal data of as many as 143 million individuals.
Everyone from lawmakers to IT experts have weighed in on the growing problems, citing the need to prepare for the plethora of threats available when it comes to doing business (or even communicating) online.
As Equifax proved, even the largest businesses aren’t safe from the craftiness of data thieves. However, data thieves may be setting their sights on smaller organizations. Though they may not offer a treasure trove of data like major corporations, they often have fewer security protocols in place and less resources to combat attacks.
These attacks can come in many different forms, and one of the most devastating is ransomware. As the name suggests, this type of malicious software holds the victim’s information ransom. It locks up systems, and may even threaten to delete or share information unless certain conditions are met. This usually involves paying money to a specified address.
A recent study showed that small and medium-sized businesses lost over $300 million to ransomware attacks last year. About 5 percent of businesses across the globe fell victim to these types of attacks in 2016, showcasing a growing threat for upstart companies.
The CEO of Datto, the company that conducted the study, spoke about the issue. He said: “The amount that [ransomware thieves] are collecting…it’s actually becoming its own industry in that sense. These people are systematically extracting cash and ultimately implementing attacks on America’s small businesses.”
2017 has seen even more attacks, with the vast majority of managed service providers reporting most of their clients had dealt with ransomware in the past several years. About 15 percent of those clients said they had suffered half a dozen of these attacks or more.
One of the most devastating ransomware attacks in history occurred earlier this year when a group of hackers used software known as WannaCry to attack computers across the globe. It is believed the hackers obtained these tools from the National Security Agency, who created but also lost control of them.
The software spread to businesses, banks, and hospitals, locking up digital infrastructure and bringing life to a screeching halt for many people. Sadly, many business owners are embarrassed when they fall victim to ransomware. This means that not every attack is reported.
Cybersecurity experts say that while protection does exist, no one software solution can guard a business against ransomware. Instead, companies should invest in disaster recovery backup plans and cybersecurity training for their workers.
Healthcare, manufacturing, construction, and finance are reportedly the industries most often attacked by ransomware. Being affected can mean lost information, lost money, and even a loss of consumer confidence. For smaller businesses, this could be a death blow.