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Ransomware: The Smaller The Business, The Larger The Problem

Ransomware: The Smaller The Business, The Larger The Problem

The variety of malware known as ransomware erupted in popularity in 2016, encrypting victims’ files and demanding cryptocurrency payments to restore the data to the estimated tune of $1 billion. This may imply that large corporations are the primary targets of these cyber criminals; for some cyber criminals, they are.

However, many small and medium-sized businesses were also victimized by ransomware attacks, often under the incorrect assumption that they were too small to be considered worthwhile targets by the cyber criminals. Unfortunately for many of these small businesses, this impression ends up costing them significantly when ransomware strikes.

Ransomware works by encrypting the data stored on a device and then demanding that the victim pay a sum in cryptocurrency for their files to be decrypted. This is usually paired with a time-sensitive threat to delete the data if the ransom isn’t paid quickly.

When attacking large corporations, cyber criminals go for the gold, trying to extort as much as they can from their victim. However, with small businesses, they take advantage of the common inability many have to afford the solutions that would protect them against such attacks, and ask for a smaller ransom. Considering the relatively high costs many solutions have for a small business, combined with these smaller, more “reasonable” ransoms, it should not come as a surprise that many small businesses see themselves with no other option but to pay.

This is troubling for a few reasons.

First, paying the ransom inherently requires entrusting the ones who attacked you to remain true to their word and actually unlock your systems once the ransom has been delivered. Are you willing to assume that your attacker is an honorable individual?

Second, consider what effect a successful cyber attack versus an SMB would have on the cyber criminal. They would naturally be inclined to target more SMBs, possibly returning again to those who proved willing to pay up with a new attack.

Which would you choose: a possible large payday, or a lot of almost-guaranteed smaller payoffs that quickly add up?

Regardless, it is always best to avoid paying the demanded ransom and to instead rely on proactive measures, such as an off-site (or ideally cloud-based) data backup solution that you can restore your systems with that has been kept safely away from the ransomware.

You also need to make sure your staff is well-versed in recognizing ransomware attacks in order to better avoid them, and what to do and who to contact if their workstation contracts one.

If your SMB needs help protecting itself against the threat of ransomware, reach out to Macro Systems for assistance. We can advise you on best practices to keep ransomware out of your systems. Give us a call at 703-359-9211 to get started.

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Thursday, 24 May 2018
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