In a not too distant past, the idea of “cyber criminals” evoked an image of scruffy outliers using sophisticated computer tricks to steal millions of dollars at a time. In reality, the hackers of today have more access than ever to malware tools designed to hold data “ransom,” which means increasing risks for businesses and organizations, and even individuals, too.
Why Is Ransomware on the Rise?
As CBS recently reported, the increased availability of these tools means that would be hackers can rent ransomware tools online and have a program ready to wreak havoc in just minutes. The end result? An increase in cyber-attacks on organizations of all sizes, especially smaller businesses or organizations who may not have the resources to fight off a major data breach, but just might have a few thousand dollars to pay to get their data back.
That’s right, according to CBS, the most typical outcome in a ransomware attack today is that the target ends up paying the price. In just one recent example, the CEO of a small hospital in rural Indiana was facing a major cyber-attack, and was given the option of paying a ransom of $55,000 to obtain decryption keys designed to restore the data. The only alternative to paying was to wipe all the data and hope that the backup data was safe, but even their backups had been hit by the ransomware. The cost ended up being a small price to pay to keep patient data protected and care running smoothly as planned.
According to cybercrime experts, thieves who use ransomware have worked out a solid formula for quickly extracting ransoms from their target. BY pairing devastating data threats with a reasonable ransom request, these cybercriminals seem to understand the calculation that business leaders will make when their organization’s data is on the line. While a sum of $50,000 is no small price to pay, increasingly, heads of businesses, non-profit organizations, and even government administrators are finding that paying the ransom is their only option.
Playing Defense: How to Keep Your Business’ Data Safe
As a recent article in Nasdaq reported, companies large and small are trying to invest in solutions to keep their data protected. From recruiting “white hat” hackers (aka, the good guys) to identify vulnerabilities in their systems, to buffing up their data protection, the cyber protection industry is booming, with spending on cyber security expected to top $248 billion by 2023.
According to Marius Nel from Atlanta Cyber Security company 360 Smart Networks, “keeping your business safe means developing systems that help you detect breaches early before you have a major systems issue on your hand.”
The increasing threat of ransomware can leave leaders feeling helpless, but there’s still great value in partnering with a solid IT firm to assess your organization’s vulnerabilities, and shore up your data protection practices before it’s too late.
But the question remains: if your data was held hostage, would you pay? With fully 50 billion devices connected to the internet expected by 2020, the possibility that one bad actor can breach your organization seems more likely than ever. Creating a small cushion to set aside for this possibility seems like a smart move in todays increasingly connected world, even if the thought of paying crooks is hard to stomach.