The Growing and Real Threat of Ransomware: Trends, Tactics, and How to Stay Ahead of the Game
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Organizations have their fair share of challenges in today’s modern business landscape. If they’re not trying to consistently stay one step ahead of their competitors, they’re struggling to keep their operations intact following major disruptions like COVID-19.

Undoubtedly, a significant concern for businesses across all industries today is also the increasing risk of ransomware attacks. But while some companies believe they’re too small or unimportant to be targeted, they might be more at risk than they think.

The Growing Trend in Ransomware Attacks

Unfortunately, many times, it feels like an uphill battle when it comes to cybersecurity preparedness. Every year that passes by doesn’t get easier for security teams, and the common struggle they all have is in the prevention of and recovery of ransomware.

In May of 2023, Statista published findings that stated 71% of global businesses reported having to deal with ransomware to one extent or another. What’s even more than this statistic is that out of those affected businesses, nearly 63% admitted to actually paying the ransom.

This is a primary reason why ransomware still remains a popular tactic for cybercriminals. Most modern-day businesses can’t survive sustained operational disruptions, and if paying a ransom is the solution to make it all go away, many won’t think twice.

How Does Ransomware Work?

While several years ago, victims of ransomware were few and far between – primarily due to the complex nature of sending payloads to privately secured networks with limited computing power – today’s ransomware attacks are well-funded and advanced.

The foundation of a successful ransomware attack lies in the power of its encryption. Once malware has infected a host network or system, it is designed to spread viciously. After it has identified its target, typically company databases and client files, the ransomware will apply what is called asymmetric encryption. This essentially makes the data almost impossible to access or use unless a private key is shared to decrypt it.

The challenge with malware exploits is that most modern-day businesses now have a broad range of attack surfaces that they may not even be aware of. Because of how quickly organizations have adopted cloud computing and third-party software platforms, their network architecture is often highly complex and commonly lacking in sufficient security protocols.

What is Required Today to Keep Businesses Safe?

Having cybersecurity awareness is crucial for businesses aiming to protect themselves from the rising trend in ransomware threats. Many mistakenly believe that smaller businesses don’t draw the attention of cybercriminals as much as large multinational giants do. However, the reality is that small to medium-sized organizations are frequently targeted, primarily because disruptions to their operations are much more impactful.

However, awareness on its own won’t be enough to keep your business safe from ransomware. Below are some important things to consider when hardening your business security and improving your cybersecurity posture:

Recognizing the Importance of SOC Audits

Knowing where your business might have vulnerabilities is the first step to ensuring the proper protocols are put in place to avoid them. SOC (System and Organization Controls) is a way to establish important benchmarks based on a standardized set of criteria.

A comprehensive SOC audit isn’t something that happens overnight, nor is it something that businesses typically do on their own. Because there are different types of SOC audits that can be completed, each with its own level of depth, qualified auditors are often contracted to help both perform these types of audits and translate their results so businesses can better understand where their weaknesses might be.

The results of a SOC audit aren’t necessarily designed to provide a direct roadmap for improved resilience against a ransomware attack, but it doesn’t give businesses a holistic view of their organization’s cybersecurity posture. By understanding where their vulnerabilities lie, businesses can better allocate resources and implement the necessary security measures to address large gaps and reduce their attack surfaces.

How to Successfully Recover From Ransomware

The stark truth is that despite the numerous security measures businesses put in place, no system is entirely immune to a ransomware attack. However, this shouldn’t mean businesses need to operate under constant fear.

Here are some proactive steps you can adopt now to ensure you have a successful ransomware recovery:

Invest in Cybersecurity Insurance

The reason why so many businesses opt to pay expensive ransom demands is because, to them, it’s the lesser of two evils. Many businesses justify that the financial loss of paying a ransom is considerably less than having to rebuild their systems or databases from scratch.

Sadly, many businesses operate with this misguided understanding, which often leads to them becoming repeat targets. The fact is only around 60% of companies ever manage to retrieve their data even after paying a ransom.

Investing in cybersecurity insurance is a much safer and more effective strategy when it comes to ransomware recovery. By investing ahead of time in cybersecurity insurance, businesses create a financial safety net for themselves in the event they need to quickly reinvest in certain elements of their infrastructure or work with a third-party security team to help them recover.

Build a Disaster Recovery Plan

Without a doubt, a well-drafted and up-to-date disaster recovery plan can make or break organizations when recovering from ransomware. It’s not enough to have clearly documented business workflows and processes, though these are crucial. For effective ransomware recovery, companies should have a detailed guide outlining the necessary actions, points of contact, and systems to shut down or isolate.

By crafting a comprehensive response plan and consistently training employees on how it should be executed, businesses stand a better chance of mitigating the financial repercussions of a cyberattack.

Partner With Managed Services Providers

Most businesses today have finite staffing resources when it comes to tackling complex cybersecurity issues. The skills gap is also quite large today when sourcing talent that can keep up with the latest ransomware threats and mitigation strategies. This is where partnering with managed services providers can be highly advantageous.

Managed services providers cover a wide range of services for businesses when it comes to cybersecurity. This includes disaster recovery planning, threat hunting and isolation, and cloud-based backup and recovery services. By relying on their expertise and their own in-house security teams, businesses can get the scalable support they need to stay protected while keeping their budgets intact.

Don’t Become Ransomware Statistic

Even though cybersecurity seems like a never-ending struggle for businesses, it doesn’t mean your organization should adequately prepare for ransomware attacks. By staying aware of the latest attack vectors, partnering with experienced industry professionals, and taking a proactive approach to incident recovery planning, you’ll ensure that your business remains viable even in the face of disaster.

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