What keeps executives up at night? In 2022, one of the biggest concerns for business leaders is cybersecurity. Even companies with a strong IT infrastructure worry about finding malware on their servers and other cyber attacks. As the world grows increasingly digital and internal systems rely on automation, data security is becoming more important than ever.
A potential threat can stop a company’s operations and even bankrupt it. One of the most common cybersecurity risks facing companies is ransomware attacks. Learn more about this threat and what it means for your business.
What is a Ransomware Attack?
A ransomware attack is a security incident where a hacker gains control of your data and holds it for ransom until you agree to pay for it. While some cybercriminals are willing to hack the data of individuals, the most money comes from hacking organizations. Hospitals, school districts, and local governments are some of the most likely targets for ransomware attacks.
Criminals can also go after software providers and private companies that provide services to prominent organizations. In January 2022, ransomware affected the websites created by Finalsite, a school website software provider that services more than 8,000 schools and universities. While the SaaS firm confirmed that data hadn’t been compromised, the cybercriminals could have demanded millions of dollars to restore the data. Had there been a ransom that Finalsite could not pay, the data would likely have been sold and the company’s reputation would have been destroyed.
How Does Ransomware Get Through Your Network Security?
Ransomware is often used alongside phishing attacks to compromise an organization’s cybersecurity efforts. Phishing messages are often emails that look like they come from innocent sources. The hacker will try to make the email look like it came from someone else in the organization or promise valuable information through a link in the message.
When someone opens the email and clicks the link, malware gets downloaded onto the computer or takes over the software system. This gives the criminal access to your organization’s network and enables them to hold it for ransom.
Unfortunately, this means that a data breach can come from almost anywhere in the company. While firewalls can catch spam, sometimes phishing messages sneak through. (Additionally, hackers often try to steal .edu and .gov email addresses because they look reputable.) Even if your company uses cyber security monitoring services, a phishing email with ransomware can get through.
How Can You Prevent Ransomware Attacks?
Education is the front-line of defense against cyber threats. The best way to prevent phishing emails is to teach employees and other team members how to check for them and how to avoid suspicious links. Some experts even teach users to approach suspicious emails in the same manner that you teach kids to cross the street.
- Stop: take time to analyze the email.
- Look: search for suspicious elements in the message.
- Listen: report the message to your IT department if you are unsure.
Human error is a significant driver of cyber threats. Roughly 85 percent of data breaches include some mistake made by employees or staff. If your team is on alert for potential threats, they can reduce the company’s level of vulnerability. Along with education, cybersecurity monitoring and updated IT infrastructure can go a long way in protecting your organization. You don’t need a large security team to keep your company safe. A smart, informed group of people is all it takes.
You don’t have to feel overwhelmed by the potential for a ransomware attack. Just know your cyber risk and take steps to reduce your vulnerability. The right cybersecurity monitoring and an informed security team can prevent data breaches across your organization.