Researchers say ransomware attacks on the rise as more people work from home. Phishing attacks have increased by 350 percent during the COVID-19 pandemic. To help protect as many companies as possible, we go into detail about what you need to know about ransomware, important stats about it, and tips on how to protect your data and your business.
Ransomware is often spread through phishing emails that contain malicious attachments or through drive-by downloading. Drive-by downloading occurs when a user unknowingly visits an infected website. The malware is then downloaded and installed on the user's computer with the user's knowledge.
Not only has the number of attacks increased, but ransomware has continued evolving. In fact, some of the most popular forms of ransomware last year have disappeared while new forms have emerged. In some cases, the new versions are even more disruptive and damaging.
Organizations should also regularly back up their systems. They should also test those backups on a regular basis as part of a recovery plan. Therefore, if the worst happens and ransomware does infiltrate the network, there's a known method of restoring it without the need to pay cybercriminals.
There are two main reasons you should never pay the ransom. First, you will identify yourself to the attackers. By identifying yourself, they can, and rest assured, they will target you again. Your willingness to pay might lead to further attacks. You are letting the ransomware attackers win and encouraging them to continue their attacks!
Second, it isn't guaranteed that your data will be accessible! You may pay the ransom and then they may ask for more. Or they may just disappear. So, do not pay the ransom!
Backup all your data. Next to your personnel, data is your organization's most valuable asset. Therefore, you should protect it at all costs. Backup your data offline and or offsite.
Don’t be fooled; offsite does not necessarily mean offline. Many clients we speak with have multiple sites or data centers. They send data from one site to another thinking the data is safe.
However, in many cases, clients don’t realize despite the data being on another physical site the logical network is common. Their backups remain “online”. This is where ransomware can “steal” the network credentials of a network administrator and proliferate throughout the entire network and compromise the data.
Test your data backups regularly. Assurance IT recommends performing a data restore on a quarterly basis. This will ensure data integrity and also help understand the effort required in the event of a data disaster.