What Makes Companies Vulnerable to Ransomware Attacks?

In the world of cybersecurity, we are living in unprecedented times. Ransomware attacks are particularly rampant, generating up to USD $350 million in 2020, a 311% increase over the previous year – leading to the Secretary-General of INTERPOL, Jürgen Stock, urging for a global strategy in response to this growing threat.

Ransomware activity continued to increase dramatically in 2021, with high-profile ransomware attacks against critical infrastructure, private companies, and municipalities grabbing headlines almost on a daily basis. Also, the attacks have evolved, with threat actors seizing sensitive company data, threatening to expose and sell it to the highest bidder.

To minimise the chances of becoming a victim, organisations have to take the necessary steps to avoid putting their valuable systems and data at risk. This article will explore several factors that may leave businesses vulnerable to a ransomware attack.

  • The use of Legacy Software or Outdated Equipment
    Cybercriminals target legacy infrastructure because it is typically not capable of fending off more modern forms of cyber attacks and techniques, making it easier for them to gain access and from there, move laterally within the rest of the network. In many cases, patch release is slow or even non-existent as they are well past their support cycles. If replacing or modernising the software is not an option, companies have to separate their legacy infrastructure from the rest of their infrastructure. It is not just software that is targeted either, outdated equipment can also put organisations at risk. For instance, the use of outdated or unpatched systems and devices are becoming a real problem in the healthcare industry, as facilities such as hospitals tend to keep using devices for many years, if not decades.

  • Unpatched Software and/or Operating Systems
    Hackers all over the world are actively looking for unpatched systems in order to exploit known or zero-day vulnerabilities. According to the Ponemon Institute's ServiceNow survey, an alarming 57% of respondents who experienced a security breach said the hacks were caused by vulnerabilities in unpatched software. Having proper patch management procedures in place is now more critical than ever, and failing to patch systems with the latest security updates can prove to be very costly for organisations in the long run.

  • No Proper Backup Plans
    The importance of backing up your data cannot be overstated in terms of keeping your data secure. When all else fails and you lose access to your most valuable data, backup is the last line of defence that will enable you to resume operations. Thus, without a proper backup plan, the whole organisation may find itself at the mercy of cybercriminals in a ransomware attack.

  • Lack of a Comprehensive Cybersecurity Strategy
    Despite escalating ransomware attacks, many businesses continue to lack a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy to deal with the rising threat. There’s always this risky mentality that, “It may happen to somebody else but not to me.” In actual fact, attacks are becoming more and more common, with ESG reporting that up to 70% of organisations experienced “at least one attempted ransomware attack within the last year.” Statistically, the likelihood of your organisation getting hit with a ransomware attack is definitely high and having a well thought out strategy (and technology) to protect against ransomware is crucial.

Protection Against Ransomware

As they say, prevention is always better than cure. Malwarebytes recommends businesses quickly address any vulnerabilities that may exist within their systems and to keep an eye out for the following four areas to actively avoid infection:

  • Patch your system: Keep browsers, operating systems, and other software applications up to date. Regularly updating programmes and operating systems can help protect you from malware. Ensure that you receive the most recent security patches when performing updates. This makes it more difficult for cybercriminals to exploit software vulnerabilities.

  • Educate users: Social engineering is one of the most common ways that computers become infected with ransomware. Users should be educated on how to recognise phishing campaigns, suspicious websites, and other scams.

  • Back up your data: Make regular secure backups of your data and store them offsite. When ransomware strikes, if you have a clean backup of your data, you will have a safe and easy way to recover it without ever having to pay a ransom.

  • Invest in layered security: Installing multiple layers of cybersecurity protection can detect and prevent ransomware attacks. They recommend the following layers for the best protection: Firewall, anti-exploit, antivirus with active monitoring, anti-malware, and anti-ransomware.

When it comes to layered security, Malwarebytes provide a solution that addresses all four of these critical areas and more. Malwarebytes ransomware protection actively prevents aggressive ransomware from encrypting your files and demanding payment. It even combats threats that traditional antivirus software cannot detect and prevents zero-day ransomware attacks (attacks for which there are currently no fixes). Furthermore, Malwarebytes' ransomware protection uses Artificial Intelligence and machine-learning to protect you from emerging online threats.

So, take the first step toward proactive prevention and check out Malwarebytes' ransomware protection solution right now.

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