Ransomware: An Increasing Threat to Businesses

Ransomware: An Increasing Threat to Businesses


It’s no secret. As businesses, when we operate online as much as we do today, the threat of hackers tapping into our networks exists. Still, the benefits of operating in the cloud far outweigh the risks, which is why we continue to migrate so many of our operations online. The only way to minimize the risk? Becoming aware of where threats exist.

Last year malware bytes surveyed 125 random Canadian organizations on their IT security. The results showed that 72 percent were victims of a cyber-attack in the last 12 months, and of those, 35 percent were flagged as ransomware attacks

So What is Ransomware Exactly?

In the simplest form, ransomware is when a cyber criminal gains access to your system and holds your files for ransom, not returning them until you pay the price they set. Cyber criminals utilize various strategies to gain access to your data. From seemingly friendly emails or malicious file downloads, to corrupt USB drives and even fake callers pretending to be Microsoft or other legitimate companies.

The Real Consequences of Ransomware

Ransomware can hit your business at anytime. When you arrive at work one morning, you could open your computer and see everything encrypted and inaccessible. The longer you take to pay the amount demanded, the higher the amount grows.

What’s worse is, at the same time as you’re battling the thieves on the other side of the screen, your business is losing money. You’re unable to take payments, add clients, or access your current contacts. You’re stuck, and this downtime can be quite costly.

And when you cannot access your customer information, your clients will know. It’s hard to keep your total company shut down a secret for long. What will that do to your reputation and chance at earning future business?

The real consequences of ransomware extend far beyond the price the hackers demand. Your entire business is in jeopardy when this strikes.

Who’s on the Other Side of the Screen Doing This?

Who could be so vicious as to try to destroy what you’ve worked so hard to build? Turns out, a lot of money hungry criminals.

Ransomware isn’t run by a few teens housed in a basement hoping to score some cash for partying. This computer threat is created and managed by commercial entities. That’s right. Entire businesses are poised around ruining your livelihood. They operate out of office buildings. They rake in millions of dollars each year. The costs are low and the profits are endless.

Victims Come in All Shapes and Sizes

The businesses attacked come in all shapes and sizes too. Service businesses as well as product based businesses are at risk. Small mom-and-pop shops are equally at risk as hospitals and corporations. Anyone who sells something can be a victim.

Consider some of 2016’s worst attacks:

  • The University of Calgary paid out $20,000 CDN (approximately $16,000 USD) to recover emails that had been encrypted for a week.
  • Gigabit Geek, an IT consultancy in Illinois, had all of their files locked down and completely erased before they could find the infected hard drive in their business – and they work in the industry! Although they were able to restore their files without paying a ransom, the process took weeks, which was costly to their business.
  • A NASCAR race team was attacked and when contacted by the FBI, they were advised to pay the ransom in bitcoin. Luckily, that worked to release their files.

There are numerous stories about victims of ransomware, but only one thing remains consistent: Hackers aren’t picky when it comes to who they attack.

Proactive Protection is Key

This information isn’t meant to scare you but it is meant to expose the realities of the world we’re living in today. Ransomware isn’t a far out threat; it’s an increasingly popular way that criminals attempt to take your business hostage until you pay their expensive price.

The key to keeping your business as safe as possible is to take a proactive stance.

Talk to your team about the risks associated with ransomware. Your staff are usually the people who open the file that lets the criminals do what they need to in order to steal your information. Educating them now could save you from an attack.

Keep your security software up-to-date. Make sure you have the latest anti-virus and anti-malware patches and updates. The threats are constantly evolving. Without the latest updates, you’re at risk of getting attacked.

Backup everything. It’s the ultimate failsafe against attackers. By protecting your data, you can avoid paying a heavy ransom to stay up and running in your business. This means you can automatically revert back to your most recent backup, which in turn will help you avoid downtime in your business.

How Vulnerable is Your Business?

If you’re like many business owners, you’re probably not sure whether you’re at risk or not. Sure, you know the risk exists, but how vulnerable are you?

That’s where we can help. Contact us to get a free audit that’ll help you assess, evaluate, and show you how to prevent your business from becoming the next ransomware victim.