How Ransomware Impacts Businesses

Worms, viruses, and Trojans are all considered malware. Simply put, malware is a computer code that is created with malicious intent. The purpose of malware is to destroy or steal data. Malware will typically gain access through operating system vulnerabilities, software downloads, or email attachments. Ransomware is a type of malware that uses encryption technology to hold the victim’s information for ransom. The popularity of using ransomware against small and medium-size businesses has increased recently. The best defense against malware is to make sure that business administrators understand how ransomware may impact a business.

Prevents Access to Your Data

Ransomware is a significant threat to your business because it encrypts your data, which prevents you from accessing it. The only way to unlock the data is by using a decryption key that only the hacker controls. Most of the time, the decryption key will be supplied to the organization once the ransom has been paid. However, in some cases, the data is never released. 

Victims of ransomware come in all shapes and sizes. Some business owners believe that they’ll never be victimized because their company is too small. This is not true. A large proportion of ransomware attacks occurs when a minor security vulnerability is taken advantage of by hackers. For example, an exposed remote access port that is not patched correctly may allow hackers to access a network using ransomware. 

Disrupts Regular Business Operations

By itself, ransomware is not the most significant risk. The actual risk occurs with the operational impact the ransomware may have on the business. Try to visualize a vital process or service of your business that immediately comes to a halt. Ransomware has the ability to shut down divisions or all of a plant, freeze up manufacturing control systems, target a bank’s clearinghouse, or cause other backlogs. The losses due to downtime may be significant and have considerable consequences. 

Financial Costs to Restore Network

A disciplined backup and recovery strategy will not necessarily make a ransomware attack trouble-free, since it may take a considerable amount of time and money to restore the data. The decision to recover your system using a backup will depend on the amount of data loss that is considered acceptable to your organization, how widely it has spread, and how quickly the compromise was detected. However, sometimes the data becomes so encrypted that you may not be allowed to return to a prior restore point. An external backup is considered best practice. 

Reputation Damage

Trust text hanging on the rope

Image via Flickr by Wuestenigel. 

Many times, a cyberattack on an organization becomes publicly known. Becoming a victim of ransomware may impact trust between you and your consumers. Simply put, consumers will no longer trust the company, especially if it focuses on e-commerce. Customers may feel anxious about submitting their personal or credit card information online.

No matter the size of your business, you may become the victim of ransomware. If a breach occurs it may cost you downtime, an immediate and significant financial loss, and may permanently damage your reputation. Therefore, it’s essential to deploy a strategy to secure your assets from hackers by implementing a multilayered methodology to network security and by properly training staff.

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