In 2021, we saw cybersecurity threats increase and experts are predicting 2022 will see more of the same. Ransomware is becoming a major concern for businesses of every size and across industries. Cybersecurity Ventures estimates that ransomware costs are expected to reach $265 billion by 2031, and an analysis of all security incidents reported to the United Kingdom Information Commissioner’s Office in the first six months of 2021, revealed that 22% were ransomware – double the number for the same period in 2020. And, according to a 2021 report from IBM and the Ponemon Institute, the average cost of a data breach reached $4.24 million per incident in 2021 – a new high record over the past 17 years.
In 2022, it’s clear that every organisation needs to be aware of ransomware and how to protect against it.
What is ransomware?
Ransomware is basically cyber extortion. Hackers use malicious software to infiltrate computer systems and then encrypt your data, holding it ransom until you pay a fee to release it. This is something that can happen to anyone, from large organisations (like government departments and multinational entities) to small businesses and even individuals. You could lose everything from your personal photos to your company’s sensitive financial data unless you’re willing to pay up.
Generally, ransomware takes hold when you click on an email attachment, link or pop-up you shouldn’t. Often, the hacker will use a “hook” to get you to click on the information you think is important or useful. This might be a suggestion that you need to click a link to track an unclaimed parcel, download a proof-of-payment notification, click on an alert about a virus that needs to be removed (rather ironically) or even a link in an email supposedly advising you of a recent traffic fine. Successful ransomware messages and pop-ups generally aren’t obvious threats and so they manage to slip in under our radar.
Unfortunately, even if you pay to have your data released, that may not be the end of it – one payment can quickly become several.
Don’t fall for the click
To avoid finding yourself facing ransom demands, Numata recommends being wary of email attachments, even those that come from friends and family (if they have been hacked, their system might send out automated emails to everyone in their contacts list, spreading the dodgy link or file).
Be careful with any pop-ups that appear out of place, especially ones that try to make you panic or offer a deal that sounds too good to be true. If it doesn’t sound right or look right, don’t click it. Ransomware is just too dangerous to risk.
For more practical steps on avoiding ransomware, read our blog post with our top advice.
Numata Business IT offers a range of cybersecurity services for SMEs to assist your business with developing ransomware protection frameworks and strategies. Contact us today for a free consultation.