Cybercrime continues to evolve and new threats appear on a regular basis, but the most effective attacks never go away. While spear phishing and data breaches have been getting all the attention lately, the criminals are still using ransomware to make a few bucks.
The story on ransomware
Ransomware is a type of malware that infects your system and encrypts your most important data, allowing attackers to ask for a ransom in exchange for a decryption key. The ransomware is not designed to steal the data, just to block your access so that you have to meet the criminal's demands in order for you to use your data again. These demands are usually a monetary “ransom” paid to an anonymous recipient via cryptocurrency. Once this ransom is paid, the decryption key should unlock all of the data that was encrypted by the ransomware.
Ransomware attacks can be devastating. This Internet Crime Report reveals that the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) received 1783 ransomware complaints in 2017, with losses of over $2.3 million. These numbers may be understated since the IC3 complaints have to be identified as ransomware to be included in this statistic. Furthermore, many businesses do not report ransomware attacks despite the pleas for transparency by law enforcement and security experts. In fact, 2017 was the year that 70% of ransomware victims just decided it was easier to pay the ransom than restore the files without the decryption keys. An earlier IBM study found that over half of the businesses they surveyed reported paying over $10,000 and about 20% paid over $40,000.
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Small businesses become the target
There are still some big ransomware targets out there, but criminals are shifting focus to smaller organizations. Here are a few of the victims from this year:
The county’s Register of Deeds office could not process real estate closings or issue marriage licenses, the county’s housing department couldn’t process any vouchers and the Tax Office was unable to verify tax bills.
“How it got in, we don't know yet. … Right now, our concern is to work through solutions and rebuild our servers, which takes time and resources.” ~ Superintendent Lance Bagstad
[Superintendent Aresta Johnson] said IT staff worked through the weekend to stop the attack which was first noticed on Friday. … On Friday, Johnson said the district’s computer system was “down” in explaining why she could not retrieve last year’s attendance statistics.
Calls for service may take longer than expected to complete due to the fact officers do not have the tools at hand to provide the appropriate level of service.
Townsquare Media stations across the country went down due to an attack of cryptolocker encryption malware … Nationally, stations turned to YouTube for songs, canceled commercial breaks and had hosts talking for long periods of time
Attackers know that smaller companies are less likely to employ dedicated IT staff, which means that they need to call in an outsider to help clean the network and restore backups. And because many small businesses rely on outside staff to control their network security and data protection, they risk having outdated backup configurations that do not properly protect the current environment. Criminals are betting that the cost and stress associated with these scenarios will outweigh the cost of the ransom:
- Downtime means lost sales or other revenue
- Loss of files could lead to lost receivables
- Recovery costs could exceed the value of staying in business
One thing is clear; having proper backup and data protection in place is the key to minimizing the risk and the recovery costs of a ransomware attack.When it comes to ransomware, criminals are betting that the cost and stress associated with downtime and recovery will outweigh the cost of the ransom. Click To Tweet
Barracuda Backup is the best solution
Small companies are especially careful with their IT dollars and need to make sure they are getting the most for their money. Barracuda Backup is affordable and simply the best backup to have in place when ransomware hits:
- The operating system is a hardened Linux system, rather than a Windows-based system that is more susceptible to attack
- The interface is intuitive so that you know exactly where to go to get the files you'd like to restore
- A single system allows you to easily backup and restore your entire environment, whether it's physical, virtual, or in the cloud
- The data backup can be replicated to an offsite location if desired
With Barracuda Backup, recovering from ransomware is as easy as eliminating the malware, deleting the files, and restoring a good copy of the data.
Stasia (Anastasia) Hurley is a Senior Product Marketing Manager with Barracuda.