How Ransomware Protection Improves Your Cybersecurity ROI
Ransomware attacks are among the fastest-growing forms of cyberattack. In 2021, the number of ransomware attacks increased by 68% over 2020, representing the third most common form of cyber attack. These facts make it incumbent on security leaders to invest in technologies and processes to effectively defend their businesses against the impact of ransomware attacks.
The effects of a ransomware attack can be devastating: businesses often experience lengthy system downtime, loss of data, and significant reputational damage. And that doesn’t even take into account any ransom payments the company might have to make. According to Sophos’s report on The State of Ransomware in 2022, 11% of businesses that suffered a ransomware attack ended up paying $1 Million or more to free their systems.
With such damaging consequences, it’s natural to think that security teams would face little resistance to securing funding to invest in ransomware protection initiatives. However, it often isn’t that simple. Many business leaders lack a strategic appreciation of the cybersecurity landscape. That causes them to view their security team as a cost center, rather than as a driver of efficiency and ROI for the wider business.
This commonly held viewpoint underscores why security leaders must build a strong case that demonstrates exactly how investing in ransomware protection technologies and processes improve the overall ROI their cybersecurity function delivers. Fail to do that and these investments will be deprioritized, leaving your business at increased risk of attack.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through exactly what ransomware protection measures your business should consider adopting. We’ll also explore the improvements to ROI that these technologies can deliver for your wider cybersecurity infrastructure.
What is Ransomware?
Before you start researching ransomware protection technologies to add to your existing tech stack, it’s important to first understand exactly what ransomware is (and isn’t).
Here’s how the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency defines ransomware:
“Ransomware is a form of malware designed to encrypt files on a device, rendering any files and the systems that rely on them unusable. Malicious actors then demand ransom in exchange for decryption.”
Ransomware attacks typically occur when an employee is tricked into opening a seemingly legitimate file, often received as an attachment to a phishing email. On opening the file, the ransomware attack locks all access to the system and in some cases, encrypts every file. To restore access to their files and systems, businesses must pay a ransom. These ransoms are typically payable in cryptocurrencies and often amount to tens of thousands of dollars or more.
Notable Ransomware Attacks
There have been many notable ransomware attacks in recent years. These often have extremely damaging consequences for the organizations that suffer them. Here are a couple of examples:
In May 2021, the Colonial Pipeline, a 5,500-mile-long pipeline that carries 100 Million gallons of oil between Texas and New York daily, announced it had suffered a ransomware attack. The attack caused the pipeline to close for five days, leading to short-term fuel shortages as well as a sustained increase in gas prices.
Perhaps the largest-scale cyber attack the world has seen was the WannaCry ransomware attack of 2017. The attack affected over 300 organizations in 150 countries around the world. Experts estimated the total damages at $4 Billion. The attack affected all kinds of organizations, from the UK’s National Health Service to corporations including Nissan and FedEx.
Ransomware Protection: Best Practices
With the potential for such dramatic loss, many security teams are proactively investing in ransomware protection technologies that better defend their business against attackers.
Here is an overview of five of the best practices businesses should adopt to better defend their organizations against ransomware attacks:
Employee Security Awareness Training
In any business, employees are the first line of defense against cyber attacks. That’s particularly true for ransomware attacks, which often gain a foothold in your organization after an employee is tricked by a phishing email.
To minimize the chances of your employees unwittingly inviting attackers into your system, it’s important to educate them on their cybersecurity obligations. Security awareness training teaches your employees how to spot phishing attacks and ransomware spam and report them to your security team.
At Tech Heads, we’ve partnered with Arctic Wolf to design a cybersecurity training program that helps businesses transform their employees from a vulnerability into a human firewall. THInc. BootcampTM features on-demand training modules, simulated attacks to measure progress, and support that tailors training to your needs.
It can also be helpful to revisit your cybersecurity policies, update them to reflect current best practices, and include these in the training program.
Adopt Advanced Security Technologies
Many ransomware attacks can be detected by basic anti-malware systems, but more advanced attacks that use novel techniques are much more challenging to detect. To ensure that your business is protected against all ransomware attacks, not just the most basic forms, it’s important to invest in automated security technologies.
These tools include managed detection and response platforms as well as specialized anti-ransomware software that monitors network activity and prevents security breaches. In the event you suffer a ransomware attack, it’s likely that you might have to bring in external security consultants. These professionals will use specialized tools to decrypt your files and remove ransomware from your systems.
Embrace Access Management Best Practices
It’s important to take every precaution possible to prevent ransomware attacks from occurring in the first place. However, no amount of precautions guarantees your safety from attacks. That’s why you should also take steps to limit the damage attackers are capable of if they were to breach your systems.
One key step is to conduct an audit of access management in your organization. Businesses should follow the principle of least privilege and ensure that employees only have access to the systems they need to successfully perform their jobs.
Regularly Install Patches
Many ransomware attacks seek to exploit known security vulnerabilities that businesses have yet to address. The most notable example is the WannaCry ransomware attack, which exploited a vulnerability Microsoft had released a patch for two months before the attack occurred. Because many businesses had yet to apply this patch, they were vulnerable to the attack.
This underscores the importance of regularly installing patches to address known vulnerabilities in a timely manner. Create systems and processes that ensure your security team remains on top of implementing new patches. Consider adopting automated patch management tools to streamline this process.
Alone though, patch management is not enough. Conducting a comprehensive vulnerability assessment identifies additional issues that harm the overall security of your networks and informs security roadmaps.
Routinely Backup Data
If your business suffers a ransomware attack, there’s no guarantee that you’ll recover your data in full, even if you pay the ransom. That’s why it’s critical to routinely back up your data to a secure device that attackers cannot reach.
Your business produces new data every day, so it’s important to commit to backing up your data periodically. If your business does suffer a ransomware attack, having a data backup helps your team restore key systems much faster.
However, bear in mind that many ransomware attacks are double extortion attacks. If you fail to pay the ransom because you have a data backup, the attackers may threaten to leak your data, which might result in significant reputational damage.
What is the ROI of Ransomware Protection?
The case for the ROI of investing in ransomware protection is fairly straightforward. Were your business to suffer a ransomware attack, the effects could be extremely serious. Your business might have to stop operations for a few days, hire cybersecurity consultants to fix the issues, and even pay a ransom of hundreds of thousands of dollars to unlock your systems.
The costs of suffering from a ransomware attack pile up quickly, and while your business incurs them, it probably isn’t making any money, since all your systems are down.
Compare these costs to the cost of investing in ransomware, and it’s easy to see why the ransomware protection industry has exploded in popularity in recent years.
Businesses of all shapes and sizes, from large corporations to Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs), are taking an increasingly proactive approach to cybersecurity by investing in new protection technologies.
Partner with Tech Heads to Strengthen Your Ransomware Protection
Ransomware attacks will continue to evolve. And as long as businesses fail to invest in adequate ransomware protection, there will always be low-hanging fruit for malicious actors to exploit. Businesses that invest in ransomware protection are not only less attractive targets, but they’re also significantly better prepared in the case they are attacked.
But if you’re an SMB owner, it can be difficult to find the resources and expertise to build a sophisticated cybersecurity infrastructure that secures your business against attackers. That’s why many SMB leaders turn to a Managed Cybersecurity Service Provider, like Tech Heads.
THInc. OpsTM, our managed cybersecurity service built for SMBs, is a complete solution that serves as a solid foundation for your business’s cybersecurity needs, protecting your people, data, and networks from attackers.
To learn more about working with Tech Heads, contact us today.
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