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Ransomware is On the Rise Again, and It’s More Dangerous Than Ever

Ransomware is On the Rise Again, and It’s More Dangerous Than Ever

Ransomware is a threat that has seen exponential growth in recent years. We have witnessed it grow from a minor annoyance to a considerable global threat. Even the U.S. Justice Department has issued a declaration that they would begin investigating ransomware in much the same way that they would terrorism cases. Let’s take a look at how this policy could change the way your business should respond to these threats.

How Much Has Ransomware Gotten Worse?

If we are being honest here, ransomware has never been something that you should mess around with. Compared to the major hacks we see these days, the smaller attacks of yesteryear were child’s play. When your data gets encrypted by an external power, that is bad, plain and simple, but when the attacks have greater impacts on supply chains or corrupted national infrastructures, you know the issue is not getting any better.

At the end of the day, the simple truth is that the dangers that such ransomware attacks pose cannot be understated, and no business is truly safe. The White House has issued this warning to companies and continues to encourage them to take measures against ransomware and other cyberthreats.

This is Why the US Justice Department is Speaking Out

Eventually it had to come to this; there is only so much stress that a string can take before it snaps, and the White House had to draw a line somewhere. As a measure to respond to this “growing threat,” investigations into ransomware cases will be handled in much the same way that terrorism cases are, which includes a no-holds-barred approach with no limits to tools used.

Other Governing Bodies are Following Suit

In light of the JBS hack and the potential economic ramifications it could cause, the US Congress has also brought into focus the lack of federal oversight into the cybersecurity protections implemented by meat processors. If oversight were to be brought into the equation, perhaps it would be possible to build a unified strategy to keep situations like these from spiraling out of control in the future.

Ransomware Threats are Also Getting Worse

Ransomware attacks are gunning for larger, high-profile targets, which has led to a shift in strategy that should be a major cause for concern. The ideal progression of a ransomware attack, from the hacker’s perspective, is as follows:

  1. Use ransomware to encrypt a targeted system
  2. Threaten to delete all contents of a targeted system if a ransom isn’t paid
  3. Profit

Historically, affected organizations could utilize a data backup to get around paying the ransom, which would be a relatively minor cost compared to shelling out massive sums to the attacker. Unfortunately, cybercriminals are now leveraging much different techniques that are not so easily thwarted by a data backup. Let’s take a look at how the approach has changed since:

  1. Steal data from a system, using ransomware to encrypt it after the data has been harvested
  2. Threaten to delete all contents of a targeted system if a ransom isn’t paid
  3. Profit
  4. Threaten to leak or sell the stolen data unless a second ransom is paid
  5. Profit again

This double-threat approach to ransomware first made its appearance in late 2019, growing ever more popular since. One survey indicated that 77 percent of ransomware attacks threaten to leak data if the ransom is not paid, and of particular concern is that this same survey shows that attacks against SMBs—organizations that don’t have large sums of cash or resources compared to enterprise-level targets—are more common now than ever before.

The question then becomes, “If a backup won’t work, what will?”

How Your Business Can Resist Ransomware

When discussing how to protect your business from ransomware, a foundational understanding of how they begin is necessary to start the conversation. About half of ransomware attacks are made possible thanks to cybercriminals compromising systems through a remote desktop software, usually with stolen credentials or unpatched vulnerabilities. With this in mind, organizations that are serious about preventing these threats should reinforce password security and user management.

Password requirements that align with best practices, complete with two-factor authentication measures, can go a long way toward preventing unnecessary security risks. Add in a password management platform complete with identity authentication and your organization is already much better off than it otherwise would be.

It also helps to invest in a dark web monitoring service. This might sound scary, but it’s really not; it helps you know if and when passwords or data your organization utilizes are compromised or stolen. It might not be able to undo the damage done, but knowing is the first step toward resolving—and it can help you identify weak points in your infrastructure moving forward.

It’s often hard to tell just how bad particular threats will get, but there is one constant amongst all of this: hackers and cybercriminals are always looking for ways to subvert the security community’s expectations and one-up them whenever possible. To make sure you stay in-the-know regarding any updates or developing threats, give working with Walsh IT Group a shot. We can help you implement the latest and greatest security solutions. To learn more, reach out to us at (832) 295-1445.

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