Ransomware attacks are now more common than ever, owing in part to the pandemic's surge in virtual environments. It has emerged as the biggest threat for many major organizations around the world.
What is ransomware?
Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts all or selective files in a system it has infected. The cybercriminal behind the malware attack then demands a ransom amount from the victim to decrypt the files and give access back to the owner.
These types of attacks are happening all over the world - and Canada is no exception. A study conducted by NOVIPRO found that 66% of cyberattacks were attributed to internal sources, 31% to malicious internal sources, 22% to an unintentional internal source and 13% to partners, suppliers or clients. They also reported that just over half of the Canadian companies surveyed have paid the amounts demanded by cybercriminals.
See more about preventing ransomware
Canadian firms falling for ransomware attacks
2021 was noteworthy for more than one reason, and it caused businesses to pay greater attention to their assets' security.
One of the most talked-about cyber attacks was the May 2021 hack of the Colonial Pipeline, where a group called the DarkSide gang crippled the fuel supplier. The attack on their systems forced the Colonial Pipeline to halt its operations. It caused a cascading and potentially hazardous situation for petrol stations in many regions, which then faced shortages of gasoline and diesel. With no other solution in sight, Colonial Pipeline gave in to the attackers’ demands and pay a whopping $4.4 million in ransom. This was one of the biggest ransomware attacks in history.
Every month dozens of ransomware cases are reported. Companies face extraordinarily steep extortionate demands, which can cripple many companies financially. Driven largely by the hybrid work culture, Canadian companies are found to be more vulnerable than ever to cyberattacks. In fact, the hybrid work setup has been touted as a ‘cybersecurity nightmare.’ This work arrangement has resulted in an increased number of attacks against technologies like cloud-based email, remote desktop applications, and more.
Preventative measures to be taken
Cyber attackers are becoming more and more sophisticated and sneaky. Cybercriminals are always one step ahead use innovative ways to break into systems. There are a number of indications that might make a certain system more vulnerable to ransomware attacks such as devices having outdated software, using operating systems that are not patched, lack of a proper backup plan, or no concrete cybersecurity plan in place. If one or more of these points apply to the device, there is a higher risk of falling victim to a ransomware attack.
There are a few basic steps that might assist you in establishing initial safeguards:
Keeping an attitude of not trusting until proven otherwise is a good place to start. The stakeholders should be trained to look out for suspicious links, folders, and devices.
Employees should be advised and trained against revealing personal or confidential information to an unknown source.
Regularly updating programs and operating systems will also help protect you from malware. Companies could benefit from using the latest security patches, making it difficult for attackers to exploit system vulnerabilities.
A lot of public places offer free WiFi services but using these networks may leave your system more vulnerable to attacks. It is advisable to avoid public WiFi for sensitive transactions.
Effective ransomware prevention is a combination of monitoring applications, anti-malware software, user training, and regular file backups. Although it is very difficult to eliminate the cyber risk entirely, it can certainly be limited. It's important to always be cautious and have backups in place. The most important component is efficient security software.
Cyber training should be a regular practice. In fact, it should be considered to be included in the onboarding process for new employees. What’s more – having an up-to-date inventory of all corporate data for the use of IT and management is also a very inexpensive yet effective strategy to know what needs to be protected.
Want to know whether your systems have any exploitable flaws? Speak with the team at Packetlabs to get started.