Here’s a weird question: Do you think you are a better than average driver?
If your answer is yes, then you should know that you are not alone. About 90% of drivers think they are better than other motorists.
It has to do with optimism bias, the belief that we are more likely to experience good outcomes than bad ones. It’s the old “It won’t happen to me” mantra.
What does all this have to do with ransomware infections? Although this cyber threat has been around for over three decades now, most companies don’t think they are going to be the next victim. Some businesses think they are too small to pose an interest to threat actors while others put too much trust in their malware protection systems. The truth is that everybody is at risk of ransomware attacks.
How Ransomware Works
To better understand the probability of a ransomware attack, it’s important to learn first how this type of malware works.
Ransomware is malicious software that hackers use to infect computers and encrypt files. The victims are usually threatened that sensitive data will be published or access to it will be perpetually blocked if they refuse to pay the ransom.
There are quite a few ransomware variants that can make systems susceptible to an attack. More often than not, hackers use phishing to trick victims. These email attachments mimic official company documents every well, but once downloaded they take over the user’s computer. A lot of these attachments also have social engineering tools that trick victims into allowing administrative access. And, once they gained access, the attacker demands a ransom (usually in the form of an untraceable Bitcoin payment) to decrypt the files.
Not all ransomware attacks come in the form of phishing scams. Sometimes, attackers simply exploit the vulnerabilities of a system to gain access. In more recent ransomware incidents, the attackers claimed that they were from the law enforcement agency and they needed to restrict access due to pornography or pirated software. Of course, they asked for payment in the form of a fine to provide access again.
So, Is Ransomware Still a Threat?
While it’s true that ransomware incidents declined during the course of 2018, unfortunately, the trend didn’t continue in 2019. One study showed that the value of ransomware payments more than doubled in the third quarter of 2019. Another report estimates that ransomware is going to increase at a fast pace, becoming the biggest malware threat for both small businesses and high-profile companies.
So, what can you do?
- Educate employees about the risks of malware and teach them how to spot suspicious email;
- Restrict access to sensitive data, especially from mobile devices since they usually lack the appropriate software protection.
- Make cybersecurity a priority by working with a company that can provide the level of security you need.
Have a look at what Technetics can do for business IT security. We are an award-winning company that can protect your business from malicious intruders.