The FBI and Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) recently announced a public service warning of ransomware attacks looming on the horizon. With attacks on the rise, particularly surrounding holidays and weekends, Appalachian Network Services urges North Carolina-based businesses of all sizes to remain vigilant throughout the rest of the year.
This year is on track to being one of the darkest for cybercrime. In fact, the first six months of this calendar year saw a 151% increase in attacks compared to the same time last year.
While your business is at higher risk of encountering ransomware, the Appalachian Network Services team is proactively working to keep our community safe and provide 360-degree ransomware protection. As your local cybersecurity experts, we understand our civic duty in protecting your business and staying ahead of the latest threats.
How Cyberthreats Infiltrate Businesses
Cybercriminals today are masters of deception and social engineering. They use believable phishing emails disguised as trusted brands to manipulate people into revealing their sensitive information.
These messages alert you of supposed purchases made to your account or potential compromises to your account, urging you to click a link or download an attachment. At first glance, they appear legitimate, and one wrong click in less than a second’s time can provide a floodgate of trouble for your business.
Your data becomes encrypted, the ransom alert and timer are set, and pressure is put on your business from all angles. Long gone are the days when a ransomware attack focused solely on your business. Now, they reach out to your clients and investors, sharing that their data is compromised as a result and increase pressure exponentially to have you pay out fast and big.
That’s when you’ll really feel your back is up against a wall.
The Latest Ransomware Tools
The techniques and tools behind ransomware attacks are becoming more sophisticated alongside their social savviness. Here are just a few of the latest ransomware tools in circulation.
- CryptoWall — infiltrates operating systems with an email and fake downloads
- Locky — Microsoft Word document that’s sent through email and contains malicious macros
- TorrentLocker — targets Microsoft Windows and uses malware to encrypt the victim’s files before demanding ransom
- CTB-Locker — encrypts files on a hard disk and demands ransom; known for high infection rates
- CrypVault — renames a file extension to “.vault” to make it seem like it’s already quarantined by anti-malware
Keeping track of these and thousands of other methods isn’t realistic for the everyday businessman or woman. However, Appalachian Network Services is well-versed in the most advanced ransomware attack strategies and ransomware prevention methods in today’s market. We use sophisticated, zero trust methods to keep your data locked down, yet still accessible and intuitive for those who should be accessing it.
A Cost Beyond Dollar Figures
According to research by the National Security Institute, the average ransomware demand is a steep $200,000 and can be tempting to pay out and try to recover over time. After all, it’s a worthwhile price to pay to get your business and client’s critical data back, right?
But the costs go far beyond the initial ransom request.
If you pay, you’re increasing the risk of your business being flagged for retargeting, and potentially won’t get your data back despite following the ransom instructions. In fact, more than nine out of 10 victims of ransomware never get their data back.
Additionally, they are beginning to reach out to those you do business with, breeding a cloud of mistrust and potentially lost business and reputational damage that lingers for years to come. This creates a cycle of decreased ROI, increased risk and, for many, the end to their business altogether.
The overwhelming consensus: save your business by investing in preventative measures, rather than paying the ultimate price when it’s too late.
What Does Ransomware Protection Look Like?
Although the problem can feel insurmountable and overwhelming, there are many strategies we can help implement to defend your business. Here are just a few of our suggestions:
- Train Your Team: Cybersecurity training is a must. Forbes notes that human error accounts for 95 percent of cybersecurity breaches. So, investing in all the right tools may be useless if your employee’s digital behavior is your weakest link. However, with frequent and proper training, they can become your first line of defense and greatest asset in cybersecurity efforts.
- Update Your Software as Soon as You’re Prompted: While having to restart your computer can feel like a pain during your midday activities, it’s critical to the health of your business. Software updates seal the cracks where attackers could potentially let themselves into your systems. However, expert managed security partners can work with your team to create an automated updates schedule that minimizes interruptions to your operations.
- Adjust Your Security to Factor in Remote Workers: Nearly 70 percent of organizations have experienced a compromise because of a remote office or roaming user. Yet, most users don’t use the proper VPNs to account for travelling or remote employees. With the right VPN in place, you can disguise your network and secure your data against external threats.
It’s Time to Partner with an MSP
There’s never been a more pressing time to seek out expert cybersecurity support, and the expertise at Appalachian Network Services goes well beyond ransomware prevention. We assess your current technology infrastructure and arm your business with a comprehensive strategy required to defend your data. In addition to increased security, we offer a wide spectrum of services that equip your business to operate more efficiently and intuitively.
There will always be risks in operating a business, but with Appalachian Network Services, you can rest assured knowing you’re in good hands.
To request a security assessment and gauge your risk of a ransomware attack in North Carolina, reach out to one of our experts today.