A ransomware attack occurs when an attacker infiltrates a network, encrypts it, and holds it hostage until they receive ransom money. Ransomware is a type of software that enters a network with the express intent of extorting an organization for money, while simultaneously dismantling and accessing essential company data.
There are several types of ransomware: consumer ransomware, server-focused, and exploitable vulnerabilities are three of the most common ransomware attacks.
While one person has the capability to hack into your organization’s networks, it’s more likely that the attack is executed by a group of people known as a ransomware gang. These gangs constantly grow, evolve, and change their names to gain power and evade capture.
Numerous ransomware gangs have risen to the rank of national security threats. North American attacks from ransomware gangs have increased 104% in 2021 and this number is expected to keep climbing as the cyber landscape becomes more technologically advanced.
A ransomware attack can leave lasting effects on your business; some organizations have been completely destroyed as a result of a well-timed ransomware attack. All parties involved in your business are at risk during an attack because the gangs aim to infect and encrypt as much information as possible - pertinent employee, client, vendor, or patient information are all at risk during a ransomware attack.
If a ransomware gang attacks, you can lose access to valuable information - and if your valuable information includes personal patient information such as social security numbers, medical records, and more, you may be subject to HIPAA violations. Ransomware attacks are projected to cost victims over $250 billion dollars in the next decade.
To get a better understanding of a ransomware attack, let’s dive deeper into the ransomware attack lifecycle.
A closer look into a ransomware lifecycle attack helps us see the full picture of how the attacker gains access to and infects a system, how they manage to stay, and what the potential damages are post-event. Within any given ransomware lifecycle attack, it will follow a similar six-stage pattern:
Having a plan is the best way to prevent and respond to a ransomware attack. It’s imperative to make sure your employees are educated on the best practices to take when using the Internet or accessing private data.
Some of these practices include making sure your IT department is regularly updating computer software and performing frequent backups on devices to ensure your information will be restored after a ransomware attack.
End-users should be trained on using vulnerability detection and prevention software to help you armor up against hackers. In addition to prevention software, it’s strongly recommended that employees be educated in online safety practices. An example of this would be training your employees to take precautions towards clicking external links or visiting certain websites. Ensure they’re well-equipped with training that reflects the ever-changing threat landscape of ransomware attacks.