According to ransomware statistics, ransomware costs will reach $20 billion by the end of 2021. That is not all, even Ransomware downtime costs have experienced a 200% year on year growth, while the average ransom payment increased by 104% in the Q4 of 2019.
There is more to ransomware than just financial damage. The frequency and complexity of ransomware attacks are also increasing, making it more difficult to protect against such attacks. Cybersecurity Venture data suggests that one ransomware attack will target a business every 11 seconds. The focus of these attacks has shifted from low profile targets to high profile targets, such as critical infrastructure.
How can you protect your business from ransomware attacks? Your first line of defense is to identify gaps in your cybersecurity system and plug them up. In this article, you will learn about seven cybersecurity gaps that businesses should rectify to prevent ransomware attacks.
1. Ignoring Antivirus Warnings
Most companies have an antivirus program to block malware infections but most of them rarely pay attention to the warnings and notifications offered by these programs. As a result, malware present on the domain controller and servers get ignored. What is even worse is that these antivirus programs are not updated to the latest version which limits their capability to detect and block the latest cybersecurity threats.
Regardless of how good your antivirus program is, it will not detect new threats if it is not updated to the latest version as antivirus software relies on virus definition to identify ransomware and other threats. The more updated the virus definition is, the latest threats it can detect.
2. Remote Access Issues
Remote connections to systems usually use remote desktop protocols, which are often protected with a weak password. To make matters worse, input is usually set to default without any restrictions. This means that your systems are easily accessible. Hackers can easily use this vulnerability to penetrate your network and wreak havoc on your company’s data and infrastructure.
3. Neglecting Warning Signs
Cybersecurity attacks do not happen instantly. They are preceded by red flags that most businesses ignore. Ransomware attacks are no different. If you keep a close eye on warning signs, you not only react in a timely manner but also minimize the damage.
Sometimes, your internet service provider might send you an alert about the risk of infection or your antivirus alerts you about a potential threat lingering inside your network. Unfortunately, most businesses don’t pay attention to these warnings and even if they do, they don’t take it seriously and end up paying a hefty price for it later.
4. Lack of Data Backup
The primary objective of a ransomware attack is usually to get a ransom by making your data inaccessible. If you have a backup of your data, you can save yourself from paying the ransom and restore your data from the backup. If you do not have a backup of your data, you have no choice but to pay the ransom the attacker is asking you to pay. That is how important having a data backup is. In short, data backup saves you from playing into the hands of cybercriminals. If taking backup of all your data seems tedious, you can take backup of your business-critical data or automate the process.
5. Poor Patch Management
Most businesses struggle with patch management. In fact, most do not even have a patch and lifecycle management in place. From operating systems to software to legacy systems, everything is outdated or no longer supported by vendors and software providers. What businesses do not realize is that this outdated software and hardware are putting their critical business data at a higher risk.
Legacy systems and older software have loopholes that can easily be exploited by hackers to get access to your company network and data. Lack of proper lifecycle management combined with poor patch management makes the job of hackers easier as it facilitates the spread of malware and viruses.
6. Access and Rights Management
Most organizations do not implement role-based access control which gives all their employees access to critical data. This can drastically increase the risk of internal attacks. System administrators have privileges that they can misuse so it is important for businesses to keep an eye on an employee who has privileged access to their data. Implement role-based access control which will only give employees access to things that they require to complete their tasks. You can easily block and allow access whenever you want but giving users excessive rights is risky and can lead to your demise.
You can also implement multi-factor authentication to prevent unauthorized users from accessing your data. Yes, it might add an extra step which can be cumbersome for employees as they have to go through it every time they log in to their accounts, but it will also make it more secure by adding an extra layer of security. Even if cybercriminals manage to steal your password, they won’t be able to infiltrate your data. This extra layer can stop them from accessing your accounts.
7. Using a Single Network
Another common issue is that most businesses have a single network. This allows cyber attackers an easy pass. If they manage to infect one computer, they can use it as a ladder to target other computers on the same network. Let’s say, if a computer in your marketing department gets infected, it can leave other computers in the marketing department vulnerable to infections.
In worst cases, it can spread throughout your organization, infecting computers in other departments such as production and human resource. That is why it is highly recommended that you segregate your network. Keep your critical data on one network and everything else on the other network.
What do you do to prevent ransomware attacks? Let us know in the comments section below.