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The Rise of Ransomware and How to Detect It

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In May 2021, the Colonial Pipeline, which transports gasoline and other fuels from Texas to New York, was hit by a ransomware attack. which resulted in the shutdown of the pipeline, caused fuel shortages, and gas prices spiked in several states. The company ultimately paid a ransom of around $4.4 million to the hackers to regain access to its systems.

Soon after, in June 2021, the world's largest meat processing company, JBS USA, was hit by a ransomware attack that affected operations in the United States, Australia, and Canada. The attack resulted in the temporary shutdown of several plants, leading to meat shortages and price increases. Then, in July 2021, the GPS and fitness tracking company Garmin was attacked, disrupting operations and causing delays in customer service.

Ransomware attacks have become increasingly common in recent years, with hackers targeting both individuals and businesses. In the business-to-business (B2B) space, these attacks can be especially devastating, as the ransom demands are often higher and the impact on operations can be greater. In this article, we will explore the rise of B2B ransomware and discuss steps that businesses can take to prevent these attacks from taking over their operations.

Ransomware Rising

Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts a victim's files and demands a ransom in exchange for the decryption key. The attackers typically demand payment in the form of cryptocurrency, making it difficult to trace the transaction.

Ransomware attacks have caused significant financial losses for businesses in recent years. According to the Cybersecurity Ventures annual Cybercrime Report, the total cost of ransomware attacks worldwide was:

  • $11.5 billion in 2018

  • $7.5 billion in 2019

  • $11.5 billion in 2020

  • $20.1 billion in 2021

It is worth noting that these figures represent the estimated total cost of ransomware attacks, including both direct and indirect costs such as lost revenue, productivity, and recovery efforts. It is difficult to accurately quantify the exact cost of each individual attack, as many businesses do not disclose the amount of ransom they paid or the full extent of the damages caused.

In addition to the financial impact, ransomware attacks can also cause significant disruptions to business operations and damage to a company's reputation. It is important for businesses to take steps to protect themselves against these types of attacks and have a plan in place for responding to ransomware incidents.

Under Attack

Ransomware attacks have become increasingly common in the B2B space in recent years, as hackers recognize the potential for larger payouts from organizations with more resources. These attacks can come in the form of phishing emails, malicious websites, or as a consequence of vulnerabilities in software or systems.

One of the most common tactics used by ransomware attackers is to send a phishing email to a company employee, disguised as a legitimate message from a trusted source. The email may contain a link or attachment that, when clicked, will install the ransomware on the victim's computer.

Another tactic used by ransomware attackers is to exploit vulnerabilities in software or systems. For example, if a company is using outdated software or has not properly patched known vulnerabilities, the attackers may be able to gain access to the system and install the ransomware.

Prevention is Key

There are several steps that businesses can take to prevent ransomware attacks:

  • Keep software and systems up to date: One of the most effective ways to prevent ransomware attacks is to ensure that all software and systems are up to date and properly patched. Hackers often target known vulnerabilities in software and systems, so it is important to regularly update and patch these to reduce the risk of being exploited.

  • Use strong passwords and implement multi-factor authentication: Another important step in preventing ransomware attacks is to use strong, unique passwords for all accounts and to enable multi-factor authentication (MFA). MFA adds an extra layer of security by requiring the user to provide an additional form of authentication, such as a code sent to their phone or a fingerprint scan.

  • Back up important data: It is critical to regularly back up important data to a secure location, such as an external hard drive or cloud storage. This will allow you to restore access to your data in the event of a ransomware attack, without having to pay the ransom.

  • Educate employees: It is important to educate employees on how to recognize and prevent ransomware attacks. This can include training on how to spot suspicious emails or links and how to report potential threats.

  • Use antivirus and firewall software: Installing and regularly updating antivirus and firewall software can help protect against malware and other cyber threats. These tools can detect and block malicious activity before it can cause harm to your systems.

The Future of Ransomware

It is difficult to predict exactly what the future of ransomware will be, as it is constantly evolving and adapting to new technology and trends. However, it is likely that ransomware will continue to be a significant threat to businesses and individuals in the coming years.

One trend that is expected to continue is the rise of targeted ransomware attacks, in which hackers carefully select their targets and tailor their attacks to maximize the impact and potential payout. These attacks can be especially devastating for businesses, as they may be more likely to pay a ransom to regain access to critical data and systems.

Another trend that is expected to continue is the use of cryptocurrency as the primary means of payment for ransom demands. Cryptocurrency allows hackers to receive payment anonymously, making it difficult for authorities to trace the transaction and catch the perpetrators.

There are also likely to be new and innovative advances in ransomware techniques and tactics, as hackers continue to find new ways to evade detection and bypass security measures. This could include the use of new types of malware or the exploitation of vulnerabilities in emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT).

Ransomware attacks can be devastating for businesses, disrupting operations and potentially leading to the loss of important data. By following best practices such as keeping software and systems up to date, using strong passwords and MFA, regularly backing up data, educating employees, and using antivirus.

Disparate systems might have been how organizations worked in the past, but it’s inefficient, delays response times, and ultimately costs your business money. HipLink’s software is an emergency response system that leverages automated text alert software. The software's response time advantages and customized notifications provide peace of mind and a sense of security. Check it out today! 

 


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