Ransomware – Biggest Threat To Business
Ransomware continues to grow as a method of extorting funds from a wide range of victims. It is
one of the most prevalent financially motivated cybercrime threats worldwide and is likely to remain
so due to its continuing success – Australian Government’s Cyber Security Centre Threat Report 2017.
Ransomware is the fastest growing malware threat and makes data and IT systems unusable until
the victims – usually businesses – pay demanded ransoms.
After the initial infection, the ransomware attempts to spread to shared storage drives and other
accessible systems. If payment demands are not met, the IT system or encrypted data remains
unavailable, or data may be deleted.
Ransomware infects computers the same way as other types of malware, for example, it can be
attached or linked to malicious emails or hidden on rogue websites.
It doesn’t matter how big or small your business is, or whether you hold valuable information,
ransomware stops you accessing the files that are important to your business.
There are two main types of ransomware:
- Crypto-ransomware: encrypts your files with an unknown password. The password is
randomly generated by the attacker to make it impossible for you to guess. You won’t be
able to access your files until you pay the ransom and get the password to unlock them from
the cyber attacker
- Lockscreen ransomware: locks your computer or files. A message will appear on your screen
telling you that you need to pay a ransom before you get access back. You won’t be able to
remove the message or access your desktop, apps, or any files.
Approximately 205 billion emails are sent every day throughout the world, and 39% of the
attachments contain malicious files. Additionally, 34% of the links embedded within the emails are
Think Technology Australia advises business not to pay ransoms if they fall victim to ransomware
attacks, but rather to seek expert technical help. There is no guarantee that paying the ransom will
recover the affected data or IT systems, and it could make you vulnerable to further attacks.
An estimated $12.6 million was extorted from businesses in Australian and New Zealand in the last
financial year (2016-17) according to a survey conducted by US cyber security company, Datto.
According to the report, 45% of businesses paid the ransoms demanded, but 14% of these
companies never recovered their lost data.
The mitigations for ransomware are well known and no business or organisation should be
unprepared for an attack.
To help guard against cybercriminals, Think Technology Australia advises business to:
- Patch/update all software and operating systems immediately
- Ensure that your data is backed up regularly and that offline and/or offsite backups are
- Ensure your antivirus software is up-to-date.
- Training your staff about how to avoid cyber attacks is also critical. Otherwise, you could be doing
everything possible to protect your business and it will be your employees who unwittingly invite
ransomware into your IT network.