Ransomware is becoming one of the most costly and dangerous forms of malware for small businesses in Natick, MA and beyond. And while hospitals and city municipalities may be the ones in the news the most, SMBs are also often victims.
Ransomware has been growing over the last decade as attacks become more sophisticated, and companies still end up paying the ransom because they’re unprepared. This creates a cycle of more attacks because criminals are emboldened to go after more businesses.
Since 2018, the number of ransomware attacks has jumped by 350% and it shows no signs of stopping. Small businesses often fall victim because they don’t have the proper cybersecurity protections.
A Typical Ransomware Attack
A ransomware attack can come out of nowhere and cost a company thousands of dollars or more.
Here’s how a typical ransomware infection occurs:
- An employee receives a sophisticated phishing email.
- The employee is fooled and either clicks over to a malicious site or opens a dangerous attachment.
- Ransomware is released onto the device.
- The ransomware encrypts all the files on the device so the user can’t access them.
- The ransomware then seeks out ways to spread rapidly throughout the network to other computers, servers, and any syncing cloud storage accounts.
- Users notice when they suddenly can’t access any of their data and the infected computers display a message from the attacker demanding a ransom.
- The ransom note will usually have a time limit and the ransom may go up the longer a company waits to pay.
- A business is usually completely down, without use of any of their business applications, until the data is restored.
- Businesses that have a backup can have the ransomware removed and a backup restored. Those that don’t may have to pay the ransom and hope the attacker returns access to their data.
Costs of a Successful Ransomware Attack
The costs of a ransomware attack are far reaching and can impact a small business for months after an attack.
According to Sophos’ The State of Ransomware 2020 Report:
- The average cost for a business with 100-1,000 employees to remediate a ransomware attack is $505,827.
- The overall cost of remediating ransomware doubles when the ransom is paid.
The costs of a ransomware attack hit many areas of a business.
Business downtime is one of the biggest areas of loss in the case of a ransomware attack. Some organizations will pay the ransom even if they have a backup because they think it can return normal operations faster.
The average cost of downtime for a small business is more than $10,000 per hour. So, every minute counts when it comes to restoring operations after a data breach.
In some cases, school districts have had to delay the first day of school due to a ransomware attack and healthcare providers without access to patient records have had to divert patients to another provider.
Lost Productivity Costs
When everyone is at a standstill due to ransomware scrambling all your data, you have a large lost productivity cost while employees are waiting for data to be restored so they can get back to work.
Emergency IT Remediation Costs
When you’re hit with ransomware, you have to immediately get help from an IT professional. This involves forensic work to determine the type of ransomware you’ve been infected with and identify your remediation options (i.e. whether you have a backup to restore or not).
Emergency help if you don’t already have a relationship with an IT provider can mean high costs to remove the ransomware and restore your systems as soon as possible.
Then, comes more forensic work to determine how the ransomware was introduced into your system so that vulnerability can be remediated.
Lost Business & Customers
Your company is often effectively closed in the event of a ransomware infection. This means that new potential customers trying to reach you, may decide to go elsewhere. You could also lose existing business because your customers lose faith that your company is reliable and will keep their data protected.
Potential Extortion Costs
According to a 2021 report on emerging cyber threats, Ransomware is right up there at the top. One of the reasons is that ransomware is becoming a criminal enterprise, being deployed by cartels looking to make money perpetrating online crime.
The criminal underground is adding a new twist to the standard ransomware attack, where they not only encrypt your data, they steal it and threaten to release anything sensitive unless you pay them additional.
This added twist with ransomware also becoming a breach incident, means more costs are involved, such as breach notifications, paying for identity theft protection for those impacted, and potential lawsuits.
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