A recent report by Radware asked a broad range of CEOs their views on a number of cybersecurity issues. Some of the most shocking results revealed just how pervasive ransomware is. According to a new report by Radware, this is the first time ever that more than half of all executives (53%) reported paying ransoms in response to a cyber attack. 69% reported facing ransomware attacks and 66% admitted that their networks were insecure.
Businesses face numerous cyber threats from hackers, but ransomware in particular is particularly insidious and common. That’s because hackers know they can attack unsecured companies’ servers to extract sizeable ransoms.
When ransomware infects a server, it quickly spreads to encrypt all of the files on that server. Obviously, this can be disastrous for a business – all of its payroll, customer information, contracts, and trade secrets all rendered inaccessible. Once it’s deployed, the hacker simply demands a ransom from the company before unlocking their files.
That’s only if they’re honest, however.
In its official Internet Crime Report, the FBI says that it “does not support paying a ransom to the adversary. Paying a ransom does not guarantee an organization will regain access to their data; in fact, some individuals or organizations were never provided with decryption keys after having paid a ransom.” Indeed, a recent report by SentinelOne claims that only 26% of companies in the US that were hit by ransomware and paid the ransom actually got their data back.
The FBI report continues; “Paying a ransom emboldens the adversary to target other organizations for profit, and provides for a lucrative environment for other criminals to become involved. ” Again, the SentinelOne report backs up this claim, as a whopping 73% of companies that paid the ransom were then re-targeted by hackers.
The cost of a cyber attack
According to the SentinelOne report, the average cost of a ransomware attack is more than $900,000. This includes the ransom itself and the costs incurred through lost work.
As we see over and over again in the news, ransomware is far from the only way that hackers attack companies and institutions. User data is a valuable resource for cybercriminals interested in identity theft, so they’re always actively looking for vulnerabilities to exploit.
Beyond the direct potential financial damage of these attacks, they can also lead to secondary consequences for the victim company. 41% of executives reported that their companies suffered from legal action following data breaches, while 34% reported that their brands’ reputations had suffered.
How to protect yourself from a cyber attack
Whether you’re securing yourself or an entire company, many of the steps you take to protect yourself will be fundamentally the same. You want to prevent your devices from being hacked and to help mitigate the damage a hacker could do to you if they hack you.
To help keep your device secure, start by adopting a few more secure online habits. Once you’ve done that, it’s worth investing in a quality antivirus program and a VPN like NordVPN. Together, these will make it very difficult for anyone to hack into your devices. If you’re securing an entire business, you’ll need the same tools, but at an organization-wide level – cybersecurity training for your employees and software for every device your company owns. NordLayer can provide your entire company with secure online access.
To reduce the damage of any potential ransomware attacks, keep periodic secure backups of data across all of your devices. The same solution applies to businesses, just on a larger scale. This means that if a hacker breaks in and infects your devices or business with ransomware, you can ignore their demands and rebuild your systems with the backed-up data (however, don’t forget that they may also have copied some of your files for themselves). Don’t forget to keep your backups secure, and if you do fall victim to a ransomware attack, be sure to learn from the experience and improve your cybersecurity in the future!
Get familiar with more tips on defending yourself against ransomware in our article on this topic.
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