Can Ransomware Be Stopped In Dallas & Fort Worth? Here’s All You Need to Know
The recent ransomware attacks on the largest fuel pipeline in the US and the world’s largest meatpacker have underscored how threat actors can put livelihoods and lives at risk and disrupt the economy.
In 2020 alone, the average nationwide cost of these attacks was at least $20.8 billion. Notably, this is twice what was experienced in 2019, where the cost of these attacks stood at $8.46 billion.
More recent publicized incidents include known targets like the Washington DC police department, the Irish health system, and a Massachusetts ferry operator. But the vastly disruptive hacks on the US colonial pipeline and JBS SA have drawn closer attention from President Biden’s administration and other world leaders.
The disruptions and challenges these cybercriminals bring raises a vivid question: Can ransomware be stopped? Well, the threat gets complex by the day, hence cannot be eliminated. However, you can follow several practical steps to stay safe.
How Ransomware Attacks Work
The attack begins with the introduction of malicious software onto an endpoint device like a smartphone, desktop computer, or laptop. This mainly results from user error and unawareness of the security risks.
The malware is mostly distributed through phishing attacks where cybercriminals attach a malicious link or an infected document. Unsuspecting users will click on it, and the malware ends up installed on their device. Another commonly used approach is the “Trojan horse” virus style that disguises ransomware as genuine software then infects devices on which the software is installed.
Ransomware comes in different forms and severity levels. Here are the three main variations:
The attack isn’t as scary as it sounds. The threat includes rogue tech support and security software scams. You may constantly receive pop-up messages claiming that malware exists and you must pay up to be safe. These messages will likely continue bombarding you, but your files are essentially safe.
Legitimate cybersecurity programs don’t solicit like this. If you don’t have the software, they shouldn’t monitor your computer for infection. If you have it, you don’t have to pay to fix the problem.
This ransomware attack freezes out your computer entirely. When you start the device, you’ll see a full-size window with an official-looking seal stating that there’s some illegal activity in your device and you’re required to pay a fine. But the FBI or other government agencies won’t lock you out of your device or demand payment. Instead, they would follow the relevant legal channels if there’s an issue.
This is the ultimate nasty stuff where cybercriminals snatch up and encrypt your data then demand money to redeliver or decrypt it. The threat is dangerous because once the attackers override your data, it’ll be hard to recover them. So unless you pay a ransom, everything will be gone. What’s more, there’re no guarantees that the criminals will do as promised.
Why It’s Hard to Stop Ransomware
A ransomware attack can massively damage your business, leading to loss of productivity and substantial financial implications. Perhaps the most obvious impact is the loss of critical data and files representing hundreds of hours of work and valuable client data that’s critical to your overall smooth operation.
The attack also renders your machines unusable, hence loss of productivity. A Kaspersky survey found that organizations take at least one week to recover data. Then, you’ll experience a financial burden when replacing the affected devices, hiring an IT company for remediation, and ensuring robust protection against future occurrences.
All these reasons prompt targets to pay the ransom demanded, though it’s not recommended to pay. Every year, hackers generate more than $25 million through ransomware, demonstrating how effectively they can extort money from victims.
Here are some reasons why ransomware seems unstoppable:
The Threat Targets Human Weaknesses
Cybercriminals target their victims through phishing attacks, enabling them to circumvent conventional security technologies. Email is a key weak point for most companies, and attackers trick users into opening malicious attachments and downloading virus files. Understandably, mistakes are hard to avoid; that’s why ransomware attacks spread quickly and seem hard to avoid.
Ransomware attacks increase by the day, and threat actors continue to develop increasingly complex malware. Most companies lack sufficient safeguards to keep the threats at bay due to the costs and deployment complications. IT functions are usually unable to convince executives; hence the company only takes action when it’s too late.
Outdated Software and Hardware
Ransomware is hard to address because most companies still rely on legacy software and hardware, like in the WannacCry virus case. Cybercriminals discover security loopholes with time; that’s why tech providers create regular updates. Organizations that continue to rely on outdated software remain open to vulnerabilities.
These are the primary reasons why it’s hard to stop ransomware entirely. However, even though companies cannot control the advancing threat, you can always stay safe from this attack by implementing several essential cybersecurity best practices.
How to Protect Your Company and Data from Ransomware
The following cyber hygiene practices will help you stay ahead of cybercriminals:
- Patch and update regularly – Ransomware leverage exploit kits to illicitly access networks and systems. Updating your network software protects you from exploit-based ransomware attacks. Notably, if you run on obsolete software (“abandonware“), you’re at great risk. So ensure you replace such solutions with supported software.
- Backups – With a robust backup strategy, you’ll only need to wipe and reimage the infected systems. Ensure your backups are regularly scanned and updated to maintain their credibility and fix network sharing vulnerabilities. Preferably, have your data stored in a secure cloud platform offering high-level multi-factor authentication and encryption.
- Invest in the right security solutions – Robust cybersecurity solutions will keep you ahead of threat actors. For instance, reliable endpoint detection and response solutions can help you detect, respond to, and remediate threats across your network.
- Regular training – To limit human error, ensure awareness within teams on ransomware tricks, identification, and immediate remediation action. Employees should be able to identify threats and phishing schemes. What’s more, ensure you’ve deployed an effective password culture and your teams use multi-factor authentication.
If you’ve suffered a ransomware attack, be sure to follow the following steps:
- Confirm if there’s a decryptor – You don’t have to pay the ransom to decrypt your crucial data, so check if you can find a decryptor. But these threats are constantly evolving, and it’s harder to decrypt files, so you shouldn’t get your hopes up.
- Avoid paying the ransom – Cybersecurity experts always recommend that you don’t pay the ransom, and the Federal Bureau of Investigations agrees with this. You’re not guaranteed to recover your data after paying, and avoiding paying shows the criminals that their attack doesn’t work.
Ransomware Protection Team In Dallas & Fort Worth
Ransomware is an ever-growing threat, and the implications can be immeasurable. However, a reliable cybersecurity partner by your side will help protect you from ransomware attacks, and that’s where Corptek Solutions comes in.
Reach out to discuss your cybersecurity concerns with us today, and we’ll help you stay ahead of threat actors.