Ransomware attacks on businesses are up 365 percent over 2019. While ransomware dates back to the 1980s, this threat is growing all the time.
What is the latest ransomware news? How is this malware changing over time? What can you do to protect yourself?
A ransomware attack can cost your business tens of thousands of dollars. Knowing how to protect yourself is essential for staying in business.
Keeping your staff trained in cybersecurity is the best defense. In this article, we’re going to show you the threats of the future that you and your employees need to know about.
What is Ransomware?
Ransomware isn’t like any other kind of malware.
Once ransomware attacks your system, you will be locked out of the machine. It will typically display a menacing message. While these vary from ransomware to ransomware, the result is the same. It demands a ransom to restore your PC to working order.
The worst kind of ransomware is called crypto-ransomware. One particularly infamous example of this is the Cryptolocker ransomware virus. This kind of ransomware will encrypt your machine’s files, only decrypting them if you pay a ransom.
If you don’t have backups of your system, there’s nothing you can do to recover your files from crypto-ransomware except for paying the ransom. The decryption key is normally stored on a remote server. If you don’t pay, your files will be permanently lost.
If you are infected with this software you could lose customer data, months or years of work, and whole decades of archived data. This is why ransomware attacks cost businesses such a staggering amount of money.
Ransomware News: The Future of Ransomware
Ransomware is already a huge problem, but it’s beginning to get worse. In this section, we’ll look at some of the most troubling developments in recent ransomware news.
Ransom Prices are Increasing
Ransom prices are not set in stone. As ransomware becomes more and more sophisticated, the ransoms are becoming more extortionate. If you’re not prepared to deal with this issue, you sometimes have little choice but to pay.
We’re Going to See More Attacks on Public Organizations
It isn’t only private companies that have to worry about ransomware. In 2017, the Wannacry ransomware infected the British National Health Service’s computers.
The repair and recovery costs of this attack were £92 million or $120 million. This attack also caused huge damage to the NHS’s abilities to serve its patients. Over 19,000 appointments had to be canceled.
According to recent projections, ransomware attacks on healthcare providers are set to double.
Improved Ransomware Can Target Your Most Important Files
Ransomware’s sophistication is growing and growing. While encryption is common, other tools are being added to ransomware’s arsenal.
One of these is simply corrupting your database rather than encrypting it. This could involve dropping databases’ tables, changing your records, or deleting whole databases.
Another possible future variant of ransomware would be one that specifically targets backups. As these are the only surefire way to get around ransomware, this would be hugely problematic.
The Rise of Extortionware
Extortionware is a variant of ransomware that doesn’t simply encrypt your files. Instead, it steals your data and threatens to make it public if you do not pay. This kind of attack hasn’t become widespread yet, but due to its potential for making money, we’re predicting a sharp uptick.
Ransomware on the Internet of Things
We’ve looked at the future of ransomware on computers, but what about other devices? Ransomware that targets the internet of things is particularly problematic.
What is the Internet of Things?
The internet of things is the name given to networked smart devices. These could be smart televisions, thermostats, locks, refrigerators, or anything else that’s hooked up to your network.
How Does Ransomware Target Smart Devices?
The threat is still somewhat theoretical at this stage. Researchers have shown that ransomware can infect smart thermostats. This ransomware could lock the temperature of your home or business at a certain level, only letting you change it if you pay a ransom.
While ransomware can cause serious damage to businesses, this has the potential to be even worse. Imagine a cold winter where the heating has been programmed to always be off. This could have serious impacts on the health of you or your employees.
While thermostats are the most talked-about, other devices are also vulnerable.
An attack on a smart refrigerator could spoil a restaurant’s food. An attack on smart TVs could devastate a bar’s custom. An attack on smart locks could leave you unable to even access your place of business.
Why Smart Devices are Vulnerable
Smart devices are particularly vulnerable because there’s no easy way to restore your lost data. The internet of things almost always keeps its data in the cloud. If this is encrypted, you can’t just access it and restore a backup.
At present, the only real, viable way to restore access to your smart devices is to pay the ransom.
How to Prevent Ransomware Attacks
All ransomware news points towards a future where more sophisticated malware, greater spread, and new variants make its impact all the worse.
There’s no way to completely bulletproof your system. Even if it was offline, an infected USB stick could still spread ransomware to your system.
The only way to prevent ransomware attacks is by training your staff in the best information security practices. If your staff know what they should and shouldn’t be doing with emails, USB devices, and downloads, you’re far safer than you would be otherwise.
If you’d like to stay protected and make sure your staff knows how to prevent ransomware attacks, get in touch with us. We’ll be able to answer any questions you may have and give you a quote for the training.