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Companies have increasingly been ravaged by ransomware, leaving in their wake a wave of devastation. Businesses are left to pick up the remains of what was previously believed to be a stable and thriving operation.
Ransomware hackers tend to have a God-like complex since they hold the fate of the organization and individuals in their hands. Their objective? To cripple businesses and squeeze them for money. As attackers formulate more sophisticated attacks and launch them more frequently, it becomes increasingly critical that you do not leave yourself open and become an easy target for these types of attacks. It begs the question, as a cybersecurity leader and decision-maker, how confident are you in the security of your systems and data?
There are several pain points that decision-makers need help with to take the next step, the most common of which are: it is too expensive to build out a comprehensive cybersecurity framework, limited human resources needed to execute, or limited knowledge as it relates to matters of in-depth cybersecurity. Let’s take a further look at these.
While cost is one of the first things that come to mind when a company is approached with solutions for enhancing its cyber resiliency, we first need to understand the cost of ransomware to get a clearer picture.
The true cost of a ransomware attack builds over time as one must take into consideration several contributing factors, including the ransom, disruption, downtime, legal expenses (lawsuits and settlements), reputational damage, data recovery cost, and the likelihood of being the target of recurring attacks. Once an attacker makes one successful attempt, they are likely to try again.
According to IBM's Cost of a Data Breach 2022 report, the average ransom payment is $812,360. However, the actual ransom payment is only a portion of the total cost of a ransomware attack, which IBM estimates to be US$4.5 million on average. IBM also noted that it takes, on average, an additional 49 days for organizations to identify and remediate ransomware breaches when compared to other common cyber-attacks.
It is, therefore, important for organizations to ask themselves - where do we prefer to spend our money? Paying off hackers in the hope that they will release our systems or data and choose not to strike again, or is the money better spent on fortifying our systems in order to prevent these situations altogether?
A company is responsible not only for its own data but also for the data of its clients'. Given the extensive Data Protection legislations that are now being imposed around the world, it is even more vital that businesses, large and small, non-profit and for-profit, ensure that they do not fall victim to these potential breaches, as there will be severe fines. Ransomware encrypts your company’s data and demands a ransom in exchange for a decryption key. Several groups are not only extorted but fall prey to double extortion, wherein hackers exfiltrate the company’s data to another location before encrypting and threatening to publish the data. At this point, the company would have lost control over the company and client data that it was responsible for. To drive this point home even further, Knowbe4 posits that 83% of all successful ransomware attacks include double and triple extortion.
Limited Human Resources
Many organizations also have insufficient human resources to carry out the responsibilities needed to secure the business holistically and robustly. Most IT departments are overburdened with other projects, making it challenging to dedicate time to improve the company's security posture. This can be resolved by outsourcing the necessary tasks to reputable companies with trained experts in cyber security, particularly incident response and digital forensics, to recover and investigate breaches.
Most organizations will be required to implement some combination of the following: a patch management system, network perimeter monitoring, incident response planning, tabletop exercises, phishing prevention and awareness, user and access management, web browser management, DNS filtering, and maintaining reliable offline and offsite backups of crucial data. Outsourcing these services allows your organization to remain competitive, improve scalability, and minimize downtime.
In some instances, corporations lack a comprehensive understanding in matters of cyber security. The best place to start is to train the individuals on your team, as this leads to a reduction in human error. Training is essential for both the general staff complement and specialized groups such as management and your IT staff. According to the 2022 X-Force Threat Intelligence Index, 41% of ransomware attacks are launched using phishing emails. Thus, further educating your staff will have invaluable effects on the company's defences.
Regardless of whether the issue is cost, limited resources, or a knowledge gap, you are still required to protect company and client information. The best strategy for avoiding the enormous bill for ransomware recovery is to avoid getting attacked in the first place. Being ready for ransomware attacks significantly reduces the downtime your company suffers due to a ransomware attack. Other advantages include mitigating the impact on regulatory compliance and adverting reputational damages.
Being ready for ransomware attacks also means having security policies and procedures in place in the event of an attack. The cost to implement the necessary security measures is far less than what it may cost you if you suffer a ransomware attack. Ransomware readiness will help organizations create a culture of security by prioritizing security planning for a ransomware attack.
Don’t be a sitting duck waiting on a cyber-attack; take control and do a readiness assessment, implement the policies, and get the necessary training done. Start by investing in your organisation's cyber security practices and not on payoffs. If you believe your organisation is at risk of an attack, Symptai Consulting's cyber security team stands ready to assist. Take advantage of our Digital Forensics and Incident Response services today