As one of the most dangerous and popular types of malware, ransomware is a growing threat amongst businesses. In the U.S., over 4000 ransomware attacks happen daily. During these attacks, cybercriminals use phishing tactics and network vulnerabilities to access a company’s systems and data. They then threaten to either block access to networks or publish software and data unless the company meets their demands and pays the ransom. If they fail to comply, data can be compromised, lost forever, or end up in the wrong hands. Following recent attacks on companies like Colonial Pipeline and JBS USA Holdings Inc., there’s a heightened need for businesses to be proactive. 

Successful attacks can have debilitating consequences, including an average downtime of 21 days. Additionally, they can pose an ongoing threat to a company’s finances, operations, and reputation. Here’s why companies should be concerned about ransomware attacks and how they can protect themselves and their data.

The Recent Rise in Ransomware Attacks

According to a 2020 report, ransomware attacks soared to a year-over-year increase of 485 percent from 2019 to 2020. This substantial rise was partly due to last year’s events, including the COVID-19 pandemic and the shift to a remote work environment. As more employees work from home and remotely access company data and systems, they’re likely on unsecured networks and devices. IT teams lack visibility into their systems and security, leaving the door open to cyberattacks.

In addition to threats to an organization’s technical infrastructure, the growing popularity and value of cryptocurrencies have also contributed to the rise of ransomware attacks. Hackers have turned to cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin as a form of ransom payment because they are less regulated and more challenging to trace. Between the increased reliance on less secure remote networks and cryptocurrency usage, cybercriminals, unfortunately, have the perfect opportunity to thrive. This leaves companies in the position to make difficult decisions regarding potentially losing access to essential data and systems or paying out large ransoms.

Ransomware Attacks Carry a Hefty Price Tag

Data and systems aren’t the only things at stake with ransomware attacks. According to a Cybersecurity Ventures report, ransomware costs were an estimated $325 million in 2015 and could rise to $20 billion in 2021. Within the next decade, they’re expected to surge beyond $265 billion. Between 2018 and 2020, the average ransom fee increased from $5000 to $200,000. 

Companies are becoming more inclined to pay up after facing threats that their data will be sold or published online. Colonial Pipeline paid out $4.4 million to hackers to quickly bring their systems and services back online after the cyberattack threatened the East Coast’s gas supply. JBS paid cybercriminals $11 million in Bitcoin after their processing plants were temporarily taken offline.

Ransomware—A Cause for Concern, Prevention, and Protection

Ransomware attacks put an organization’s customers, network infrastructure, brand reputation, and finances at risk. They can even lead to business closures. Should an attack occur, in addition to lost revenue due to disrupted operations, the company may also face expenses related to investigating the incident, system repairs, and more. Businesses can’t afford to be ill-prepared for these situations. They have to take the necessary steps to protect their information and networks with encryption and by regularly backing up data. They should also implement proper cybersecurity measures to both prevent attacks and minimize damage in the event of an attack.

Data and system networks are among the most important assets for many businesses. They store and transmit an immeasurable amount of data daily and need suitable safeguards to protect it and sustain operational activities. 

Cyber insurance coverage is a necessary safety net in case of network security breaches, ransomware attacks, privacy liabilities, and more. Quaker Special Risk offers cyber coverage and professional liability coverage for technology to prepare you for the unexpected. Contact us for a customized quote.