Ransomware, one of the biggest security problems on the Internet today, is a type of malware that encrypts data, on anything from your PC to entire networks and servers, and then holds that data for ransom until specified demands are met, usually some form of financial payment. Those financial payments can range from hundreds to thousands to even millions of dollars. For anyone, including businesses, the effects of a ransomware attack can be devastating and the road to recovery long and costly. The July 2020 ransomware attack on multinational tech company, Garmin, provides a pertinent example of the type of devastation just such an attack can cause.
The tech giant reportedly paid a $10 million ransom fee in order to get the decryption key that would give it back its data. Not surprisingly, however, the depth of the attack’s impact is still unclear, as the damage caused by a ransomware attack goes beyond the cost of the ransom fee. For Garmin, the attack also crippled its website and disrupted its online services for millions of users, including the Garmin Connect service, which syncs user activity and data to the cloud. In addition, the cyber attack also downed Garmin’s communication, aviation navigation, and route-planning services.
Of course, Garmin is by no means the only large business to suffer such a serious ransomware attack. There have been scores of them. For example, Cognizant, another multinational tech company, suffered a ransomware attack just a few months prior. Although the company claims that only their internal network and not its customer systems were impacted by the attack, its recovery and mitigation costs are still estimated to be as high as $50 to $70 million.
Ransomware might be big business, but small businesses are big targets
Yet, it’s not just large businesses that are under attack. While ransomware attacks on big corporations like these are headline grabbers, owners of small businesses should not let those types of headlines lull them into thinking that criminals will not target them. In fact, quite the opposite is true: industry experts report that 71% of ransomware attacks target small businesses. Indeed, some hackers prefer to target small businesses because they have the valuable data, but rarely the resources or know-how to withstand an attack. Furthermore, ransomware is big business now: ransomware-as-a-service can even be purchased on the dark web making it easier and easier for cyber criminals to target any business they want, large and small alike.
And the attacks keep coming
The fact is, neither large businesses nor small businesses can afford to be complacent about their cybersecurity especially now. Ransomware attacks are on the rise and so are the ransom fees. According to nytimes.com, in 2019 there was a 41% increase in ransomware attacks over the previous year and the average payment for regaining access to the encrypted files more than doubled. The FBI also reported that ransomware attacks have become ‘more targeted, sophisticated, and costly’.
In addition, recovery costs, which rise in relation to the sophistication and duration of an attack, have gotten higher too. According to forbes.com, the average cost of recovery from a ransomware attack more than doubled in the last quarter of 2019 alone. Recovery costs include such things as hardware repair and replacement, lost revenues, damage to reputation, notification and reporting costs etc.
Of course, recovering from a ransomware attack also means removing the ransomware. But the question is can ransomware be removed? Fortunately, it can; an advanced cybersecurity product can detect and remove ransomware and disinfect your devices, although removal doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get all of your files back. The better approach is to establish a strong security posture before you’re attacked. This means following password best practices, creating a strong security work culture through employee training and awareness programs, and installing an advanced endpoint security solution that, among other features, has an anti-ransomware shield.
No time for complacency
Ransomware has been around for a long time, even long enough to have developed a history. And over the course of that history, the world has come to hear about many large-scale ransomware attacks with far-reaching and devastating consequences. The success of these attacks has only served to invigorate and motivate hackers to launch more of them. When it comes to cybersecurity, therefore, this is no time for complacency. Businesses must take a strong security posture, or risk the consequences.