The Ransomware Threat Is Growing – Here’s Why

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

One of the biggest problems facing businesses today is ransomware. In 2017, a ransomware attack was launched every 40 seconds and that number has grown exponentially in 2018. What are the main reasons for this type of escalation and why can’t law enforcement or IT experts stop the growing number of cyber-attacks?

Ransomware Trends
One of the reasons involves the latest trends. The art of ransomware is evolving. Hackers are finding new ways to initiate and pull off the cyber-attack successfully.

Hackers rarely get caught. So, you have a crime that pays off financially and no punishment for the crime. The methods of attack expand almost daily. Attack vectors increase with each new breach. If cyber thieves can get just one employee to click on a malicious link, they can take over and control all the data for an entire company.

If you go to work in the morning and find that hackers have locked up all your data and are demanding a $2,000 payment in bitcoin, do you pay it or not? Most business owners pay the ransom. It’s easier and cheaper and it gets everyone back to work much faster.

One of the major keys to this cyber-attacks success is the fact that criminals keep the ransom amounts fairly low. If you can simply pay $2,000, get all your files back and move on, then why not do so?

Contributing Factors
One of the most crucial contributing factors to this crime is the cryptocurrency revolution. If criminals had to rely on bank accounts and credit cards for payment, their crimes would soon be solved and they would be caught and placed in jail.

But cryptocurrency is perfect for Internet-based crimes. It’s untraceable and that makes ransomware a practically unsolvable crime.

The only safe way to pay for illegal materials is to use a completely untraceable form of payment. The answer is cryptocurrency.

But there are other contributing factors as well: social engineering, known and unknown software vulnerabilities, and poorly configured servers and workstations.

Most of these vulnerabilities do have a workable solution. It’s just a matter of finding out where you are most at risk and taking steps to close up those weaknesses. A good IT managed services company can assess your current IT infrastructure and make recommendations for improving it. Consider it an investment in your company’s future.

What Can You Do As a Business Owner?
Knowing that all these things are true and things are not going to just suddenly get better, you have to ask yourself how you can protect your company from cyber thieves. The number one way that all security experts agree on is better employee training. Thieves most often trick an employee into clicking on a bad link. The human factor is the weakest link in the cyber-security chain.

But the good news is that training your employees doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming. Ask a local security expert to come out once a month and address all your employees.

The experts can educate everyone about the latest cyber threats. They can share helpful information about what phishing scams are and how to spot a suspicious email. If you don’t have the budget for it, you could even ask the security expert to do his talks on YouTube and then send links to everyone in your organization. Make watching these security briefs mandatory for all employees.