The FBI estimates that since the beginning of 2016, there have been more than 4,000 ransomware attacks daily. This is a 300% increase from the previous year. People don’t need special skills; instead, they can buy ransomware from the dark web and use it to infect other computers. This is partly because of the growing “ransomware-as-a-service” market. This allows the creators and distributors of ransomware to get a share of the ransom money.


Ransomware attacks are a serious threat to any organization or individual, regardless of their size or sector. However, the most vulnerable and affected are the small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). According to a security company’s research from last year, 22% of SMBs that faced ransomware had to stop their operations right away. Moreover, one out of three SMBs had experienced a ransomware attack in the previous year.


Sheraun Howard, a supervisory special agent at the FBI’s Cyber Division in Washington, D.C., advises that everyone should prepare for the possibility of being targeted by ransomware or other kinds of cyberattacks. He says, “You need to take measures to protect yourself and reduce the potential harm or loss if you are attacked by ransomware or any other type of computer attack because it is likely to happen sooner or later.”


How it Works


The basic concept of ransomware attacks is the same, even though they have different names, details, and ways of entering. The criminals first send the ransomware to their victims. They often use spear phishing emails, which are personalized phishing messages that target a specific group of employees and include personal details to make them look legitimate. These emails or their attachments have a code that exploits a weakness in a certain software program and allows the attacker to take over your computer. The attacker then uses more software to spread across your network and install ransomware on your devices. The ransomware encrypts the files of the users it affects, making them unable to access their data or systems. The targets get an email, text message, or screen message demanding money in exchange for access back.


How to Defend Yourself


The FBI recommends that all businesses take these steps to reduce their chances of being hit by a ransomware attack:

1.     Provide your employees with information and knowledge regarding the potential risks.

2.      Establish a security incident response strategy.

3.      Keep your software and firmware updated and patched.

4.      Manage your privileged accounts carefully.

5.      Monitor who has access to your systems.

6.      Use antivirus, spam, and firewall software


Both individuals and companies can benefit from following these six tips as a solid basis. However, to proactively prevent attacks, it is crucial to evaluate and apply advanced threat protection with Co-Managed SIEM at some point.


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