As cyber threats continue to evolve, businesses are facing unprecedented challenges in protecting their valuable data and assets. One of the most sinister threats is ransomware, a malicious software designed to encrypt files and systems, effectively holding them hostage until a ransom is paid. In this blog, we’ll explore the rise of ransomware, its real-world impact, and the critical steps businesses can take to protect themselves. With a combination of strong security measures, Managed Service Providers (MSPs), and employee education, businesses can minimise the risk and fight back against ransomware.
Ransomware is a type of malware that restricts access to a user’s files or systems, often through encryption. Cybercriminals then demand a ransom, usually in the form of cryptocurrency, in exchange for the decryption key. If the ransom is not paid, the encrypted data may be permanently lost or leaked online.
Statistics and Recent Examples
According to a report by PurpleSec, ransomware attacks have increased by 350% since 2018, with the average cost of a ransomware attack reaching £100,000 in 2021 (1).
Some high-profile examples include:
- WannaCry (2017): The infamous attack affected more than 200,000 computers in 150 countries, causing billions of pounds in damages. The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) was one of the worst-hit organisations, with an estimated cost of £92 million (2).
- Colonial Pipeline (2021): In this attack, a major US fuel pipeline was temporarily shut down, leading to widespread fuel shortages and a £3.6 million ransom payment (3).
- Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council (2020): In February 2020, a ransomware attack impacted its IT systems for over a week. The total cost of recovery was estimated to be around £10 million. The incident highlighted the vulnerability of small and medium-sized organisations to such attacks. (4)
- St John Ambulance (2019): In July 2019, they fell victim to a ransomware attack that affected their IT systems. While the organisation’s operational services were not impacted, the charity stressed the importance of robust cybersecurity measures in preventing future attacks. (5)
Protection Measures with Managed Service Providers
Given the rising threat of ransomware, businesses must take proactive measures to protect their data and systems. Working with a Managed Service Provider (MSP) offers access to specialised expertise and resources to implement comprehensive security strategies, including:
- Regular Backups: MSPs can help businesses develop a robust data backup strategy, including offsite and cloud backups. In case of a ransomware attack, this ensures that data can be restored without paying the ransom.
- Multi-layered Security: MSPs can implement multiple layers of security, including firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and endpoint protection. This helps to block ransomware before it can infiltrate the network.
- Patch Management: Keeping software and operating systems up-to-date is crucial in defending against ransomware. MSPs can help businesses manage and deploy patches efficiently, minimising vulnerabilities.
- Incident Response Planning: MSPs can work with businesses to develop a comprehensive incident response plan, outlining the steps to take in case of a ransomware attack. This can help minimise downtime and financial losses.
- Zero Trust: Zero trust is a holistic security approach that assumes that no user, device or application should be inherently or automatically trusted. The zero-trust concept begins with the assumption that trust has already been broken (the environment has already been breached) and trust can only be established (or reinstated) based on the identity and the context of the request.
Best Practices for Employee Education
Employees play a crucial role in preventing ransomware attacks. By educating staff on cybersecurity best practices, businesses can significantly reduce their risk. Key topics to cover include:
- Phishing Awareness: Ransomware is often spread via phishing emails. Teach employees how to recognise and report suspicious emails, and encourage them to never click on unknown links or open unsolicited attachments.
- Password Management: Encourage strong, unique passwords and the use of a password manager. Implementing multi-factor authentication (MFA) adds an extra layer of security.
- Safe Browsing: Employees should be educated on safe browsing habits, including avoiding suspicious websites, enabling browser security settings, and using a reputable antivirus solution.
- Incident Reporting: Make sure employees know how to report potential security incidents and have a clear understanding of their role in the incident response plan.
Conclusion – Do Reach Out to Us for Assistance
Ransomware is a growing threat to businesses of all sizes, but with the right combination of security measures, MSP support, and employee education, organisations can significantly reduce their risk. By staying informed about the latest threats, adopting best practices, and partnering with a reliable Managed Service Provider, businesses can build a robust defence against ransomware and other cyber threats. With the stakes higher than ever, it’s time to ramp up the fight against ransomware and safeguard your organisation’s valuable data and assets.
If you would like us to help in creating the protection required for your organisation, please do Contact us today to speak about your requirements.
- PurpleSec (2021). “2021 Cyber Security Statistics.” Retrieved from https://purplesec.us/resources/cyber-security-statistics/
- National Audit Office (2018). “Investigation: WannaCry cyber attack and the NHS.” Retrieved from https://www.nao.org.uk/report/investigation-wannacry-cyber-attack-and-the-nhs/
- BBC News (2021). Colonial Pipeline boss confirms $4.4m ransom payment – BBC News
- BBC News (2020) Redcar cyber-attack ‘cost council £10.4m’ – BBC News
- Daily Mail (2019) St John Ambulance was the victim of a ransomware hack attack | Daily Mail Online