Perils of Ransomware Small Business Owners Can’t Ignore

In August, TechRepublic published a very concerning article about the state of ransomware. The technology blog reported that ransomware attacks against businesses had increased by a whopping 365% since the summer of 2018. A lot of leading indicators suggest that the threat of ransomware will increase even further in the future. The actual number of companies that have fallen victim to ransomware attacks is probably even higher than data suggests, because many companies may not report the incident.

Ransomware harming businesses
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Pitney Bowes is among the organizations that was hacked this year. In October, the Connecticut based-technology company acknowledged that it had been victim of a vicious ransomware attack. The company said that mailing and shipping services were severely affected.

Some companies are driven out of business after a ransomware attack. This can happen in one of two ways.

Some companies reluctantly pay the extortion fees that the hackers demand. Since many businesses are struggling to stay afloat day-to-day, these costs could easily be the final nail in the company’s coffin.

The consequences of the ransomware attack itself can be devastating, even if the company does not pay the extortion. The issues can include sensitive secrets being leaked or essential digital services being locked.

The mortality rate for companies that fell victim to ransomware attacks is 60%. Small businesses appear to be most likely to fail. Cytelligence warns businesses of all sizes to take appropriate precautions to prevent a ransomware attack from destroying their livelihood.

Why are attacks on businesses on the rise?

Malwarebytes published a detailed article on the state of ransomware in 2020. The authors showed that hackers originally targeted consumers for mass ransomware attacks. They used a number of complicated schemes, such as the FBI virus.

They discovered that this horrible form of malware was incredibly effective at helping them steal from unwitting consumers. They clearly decided to look for even more lucrative targets. While the number of municipalities and small businesses that fell victim to these attacks exploded, the number of consumer infections dropped by 12%.

Companies need to assess the likelihood of a ransomware attack

The number of companies falling victim to ransomware attacks is clearly on the rise. Every business needs to be prepared for the possibility. However, some companies are in a higher risk category than others.

Companies that meet any of the following criteria need to be especially careful about defending themselves against a potential attack:

  • Larger companies tend to be more attractive targets to hackers, because they are presumed to be more lucrative. Companies with ten or more employees are usually the targets of a ransomware attack.
  • Companies in the healthcare and educational industries are targeted more than other businesses. There are a couple of reasons for this. The first is that hackers know that they don’t have the best digital security infrastructure. The other issue is that they tend to have massive amounts of data on customers, which they obviously don’t want to have released.
  • Companies in the political field are also frequent targets. They have highly sensitive information that could seriously compromise their reputation if released.
  • Any organization that has been in the news for making major milestones is also likely target. Hackers will expect these organizations to have large sums of cash.
  • Companies in more liquid industries are also frequent targets, especially retail and financial industries. Hackers know that these companies will have an easier time making payment then companies in industries with illiquid assets.

Organizations that fall into one or more of the categories listed above should be especially careful. However, all businesses need to take appropriate precautions to prevent a ransomware attack.