Ransomware attacks

What is Ransomware and how to prevent it?

A 2019 Verizon report highlighted that Ransomware was the 2nd most frequent attack. In fact, Cybersecurity Ventures predicted that a business will be attacked by cybercriminals every 11 seconds by 2021. In addition, the damage costs from these attacks will be around $20billion by 2021.

Ransomware is not a cybercrime to occur only to large businesses. According to an IBM survey, 29% of small businesses had experienced ransomware, making these businesses more likely to be unprepared for the threat. With the stakes so high, it’s time for businesses to take action and learn how to avoid Ransomware.

Email is still a top delivery method for Ransomware, and other types of malware. So how do we get employees to stop clicking on phishing links? In this post, we address of what Ransomware is, and the top common mistakes businesses make that lead them into becoming victims of ransomware attacks, and what you should be doing to avoid the attack.

What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a form of malware, which unknowingly installs on the target’s computer. The malware then starts to encrypt the victim’s data on the device. In order for the victim of unlock the data, and return it to its original state, cybercriminals will then hold the data in ransom until the victim pays the amount for the key to decrypt it. 

Ransomware was first detected in 1989. It was distributed through floppy disks, and a ransom of $189 was asked. However, over the years the amount the ransom amount has increased. In some surveys, losses for businesses can average to $2,500 for each incident, and some businesses have been willing to pay up to a million dollars to have their data decrypted. 

Last year in May 2019, Baltimore City Government had become the latest victim of a Ransomware attack. The city’s computer system was hit, which impacted ATMs, airports and hospitals. The cost to recover from the attack was estimated over $18 million dollars. However, the cybercriminals had only demanded $76,000 worth of Bitcoins. 

Ransomware attacks have spread globally, where Avon, the company for Women had been affected due to a Cyberattack. Avon was forced to close it’s UK website after a cyber attack. Though the company have not officially announced the cause of the attack, one report has claimed it was a Ransomware attack.

As the media continues to report us about high-profile companies falling as a result of Ransomware, you might be wondering – how exactly does this cybercrime work? How can large organizations with supposedly high cybersecurity defenses end up falling for ransom attacks.

The answer is – it might be easy to assume that cybersecurity can defend against these types of crimes, but the reality is that it requires human intervention.

So how exactly does this cyberattack work?

How does Ransomware work?

Ransomware is a twofold attack. It first starts with an email, a phishing email, which is contains personalised content designed for the target. The email will contain a malicious link or an attachment for the target to download. 

Once the target has clicked on the link, or opened the attachment, a malware will be installed on the device. This malware will start to encrypt all the files sitting on the target’s device. The cybercriminal will then contact the target asking them to pay a certain amount in order for the victim to receive the keys to decrypt their data. The target now faces a dilemma between paying the ransom amount, or letting their work go. 

The Common Mistakes Businesses Make

Employees are the number one target for Phishing attacks, that is predominately down to their lack of awareness. Cybercriminals have learnt to exploit their weakness. These are the common mistakes that many businesses make which ultimately lead them to becoming the perfect target for a Ransomware attack.

  1. Clicking on links: Most organisations do not spend time on training their staff about the online threats that could occur, and that’s why employees will often click on links or attachments that have come into their inboxes.
  2. Inadequate Antivirus software: Some organisations do not invest in antivirus softwares, or when they do, they do not pay attention to the upgrades available.
  3. Ignoring System updates:  Some organisations ignore system updates as they do not understand the value or difference a version can make. With technology rapidly evolving, system updates are essential. Instead of relying on manual intervention, it’s easier for organisations to set system updates to an automated setting.
  4. Cybersecurity failing to make the agenda: Most organisations ignore the fact that cyber threats rely on human intervention, and therefore it is essential to train staff. Not putting cyber security on top of any business agenda is a sure way off allowing cybercriminals in.
  5. No data back-ups:  Organisations forget that a backup of data is critical for any circumstance. If a cyberattack occurs then that data would be lost forever. Ransomware encrypts all data wherever it is stored. Having a backup of data in multiple areas can help relieve you from a Ransomware attack.

The Steps To Avoid Ransomware

Here are the critical steps you need to take to prevent your business from becoming a target for Ransomware.

  1. Keep your operating system patched and up-to-date to ensure you have fewer vulnerabilities to exploit.
  2. Don’t install software or give it administrative privileges unless you know exactly what it is and what it does.
  3. Install antivirus software, which detects malicious programs like ransomware as they arrive, and whitelisting softwarewhich prevents unauthorized applications from executing in the first place.
  4. Always backup your files. The more backups a business has, the less the risk of losing data. Keep at least three copies of your data. Therefore, if one copy is lost in Ransomware, you will have other copies to fall back on.
  5. Implement Cybersecurity awareness training within the organisation to teach your staff on how to spot a phishing attack. There are many cybersecurity training programs available, which can your employees learn how to combat cybercrime.


About Siccura Cybershield

Siccura Cybershield is the most interactive Cyber security training awareness program. With a philosophy as simple as Test. Aware. Engage, we’ll help you:

  • Test your employees and IT defences by playing the role of an attacker.
  • Make your employees aware of the types of attacks such as Phishing, Vishing, Ransomware and more
  • Engage your employees by sharpening their knowledge, and teaching them how to combat threats.

Through the training program, we’ll help you turn your employees into a Human Cybershield ready to defend your business.

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