In the past few decades, the world has rapidly become more and more digitized. Many industries have been completely altered, while electronic devices and the internet have become integral parts of the way we do business. However, with so much reliance on computers and other electronic devices, the issue of cybersecurity becomes a major concern. There is a lot of sensitive personal and business information stored in many companies’ databases, and if hackers get access to it, then it could spell doom for a company.
One of the biggest cybersecurity threats a company can face is a ransomware attack, a cyber attack that is designed to block sensitive information until a ransom fee has been paid in full. In addition, some ransomware attacks could even use blackmail, threatening to leak or publish sensitive information if the ransom is not met. Ransomware attacks are growing rapidly, and many victims do not have the resources or money to invest in cybersecurity and protect themselves. So why are ransomware attacks growing so rapidly, and what can you do to protect yourself?
Why are Ransomware Attacks Rising?
As more files and data become available due to rapid digitization, the reward for pulling off a successful ransomware attack greatly increases. As a result, the number of ransomware attacks has risen in recent years. Successfully pulling off a ransomware attack could net cybercriminals thousands of dollars, funding their next attacks. As more data is stored by businesses and the potential to extort increases, the number of cyber attacks like ransomwares will increase.
Should You Pay a Ransomware Fee?
Ransomware attacks can be extremely detrimental to a business, causing productivity to grind to a halt as important and sensitive data is locked behind the attack. In addition, money and other resources need to be allocated to address the attack. Plus, companies face the stress of dealing with an attack and the potential damage that will result if sensitive information is leaked to the public. However, despite these downfalls, paying the ransom still is not recommended.
Many government agencies that cover cybersecurity and cyber crimes have stated that paying a ransomware’s fee only encourages future ransomware attacks and enables criminals to have the resources to continue to extort other companies. Besides, paying the ransomware fee leaves no guarantees that access to the locked data will even be granted. While companies will often pay the fee because it is cheaper than losing productivity, in some cases paying a ransomware fee can violate the new Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) regulations, and result in a fine if the payment is going to an already sanctioned entity.
The U.S government has attempted to crack down on cyber threats, listing several entities that cannot be traded with and freezing all of their assets. As a result, even if you are a victim of a ransomware attack, wiring payments to these entities could land your business in trouble with the law. Being the victim of a ransomware attack is a hard situation to be in, but simply paying the ransom fee is not always the easiest way to solve it.
What to Do In A Ransomware Attack?
So if you’re not advised to pay a ransomware fee right away, what is the best course of action to navigate a ransomware attack? First, contact the OFAC to see if your cyber attacker is one of the sanctioned parties that cannot receive funds. If your cyber attacker is not a sanctioned group, then you could potentially explore paying the ransom fee without the fear of receiving a fine from OFAC and should try to contact other relevant government agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Homeland Security, or the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).
These agencies employ experts that can help your business navigate the attack and try to mitigate damages as much as possible. In addition, your company’s compliance with law enforcement will be a major determining factor on whether or not your company will get in trouble for dealing with a sanctioned cybercriminal. Cyber attacks are serious incidents, so you need to refer to the expertise of authorities in order for your company to make it out unscathed.
Protecting Against Ransomware Attacks
One of the best ways to limit the damage ransomware attacks do is to protect yourself from becoming a victim of them in the first place. There are several steps that you can take to protect yourself and limit the likelihood of being the victim of a ransomware attack. First, ensuring that you have up-to-date antivirus software is your first line of defense for any attack. Antivirus softwares can monitor your network and files, alerting you to any suspicious changes or even stopping them completely. However, if you fail to keep the software current, its effectiveness diminishes.
You can also take other precautionary methods such as not clicking on links in suspicious emails or letting random devices connect to your network. These could contain malware or viruses that can potentially lead to a cyber attack. Employees can play a key role in avoiding attacks as well. Training them to avoid the dangers of cyber attacks is key to ensuring that your company is safe.
Finally, you will want to ensure that your network and software are patched and updated regularly, ensuring that you have no vulnerabilities in your network. One solution is Breach and Attack Simulation, which allows for continuous testing of cybersecurity infrastructures. BAS technology allows you to identify security gaps, address vulnerabilities, and optimize solutions before threat actors get a chance to strike. Request a demo today to learn more about how rThreat can optimize your defenses against ransomware attacks.
All of these precautions cost time, money, and resources, but they can be key in helping you prevent the disaster that comes with a ransomware attack.
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