In 2016, there were 638 million ransomware attacks reported, that’s 634 million more than were reported in the previous year! It’s safe to say that ransomware is on the rise. This article explains more about the ever growing problem of ransomware and how to protect your business from a malicious attack.
What is ransomware?
Victims, unbeknown to them, typically download ransomware by clicking on an email attachment or by going to a website that has malicious code attached to it. This then triggers the malicious code to run on their device. From this point, a sequence of events takes place that often locks down the user’s device or encrypts their data. This is often combined with the display of a message listing demands which are usually monetary, namely Bitcoins. This ransomware can spread quickly across a corporate network and can bring operations to a halt.
Ransomware is now accessible to all
Historically, ransomware was only available to those that had the know-how and inclination to infect devices and cause mass disruption. Now, with RaaS (Ransomware as a Service), cybercrime is now accessible to anyone.
So, regardless of skills or expertise, anyone can get access to malicious code and infect devices at will. A technique often used for financial gain. The person pays the cybercriminal a set fee and then they can use the code to infect end-user devices, holding them to ransom. They then make money from this ransom attack as a result.
A booming industry
Some cybercriminals ‘partner up’ with ‘joe public’ as this incentivises a higher volume of attacks, which results in many more ransom requests and pay-outs. They then split a percentage of the ransom payments received. Of course, all of this is happening in cryptocurrency which makes it completely untraceable. This is one of the reasons it’s so rife and why there has been such an increase in attacks.
Not only is ransomware cheap to buy, (typically around only £50 on the dark web), it is also very easy to distribute and spread. You don’t need to be tech-savvy or have special expertise or equipment, which is why more and more cybercriminals are using this form of misconduct. One of the really appealing factors with RaaS is that there is an incredibly low risk of being caught due to the anonymity of Bitcoins.
So if you’ve been infected by ransomware your probably thinking that it’s the stereotypical teenager sat in a dark room wearing a hoody. In fact, it could literally be your next-door neighbour, the chap that’s just served you at the corner shop or the waiter you’ve just paid your bill too.
How to protect your business
There are measures that can be taken to prevent ransomware such as using comprehensive security and ensuring that you have backups that are Cloud-based. Education has a big part to play in this too. The more employees know about the signs and what to look with ransomware for, the less likely your business will be held to ransom.