The increasing threat from ransomware attacks

Padlock and keyboard keys symbolise ransomware attacks
Written by Melker Wångdahl

Ransomware attacks have increased sharply during 2021 and pose a big threat to any company. Make sure you take the right precautions to stay protected.

The challenges businesses are facing during 2021 are challenging to say the least. The pandemic is still causing havoc, shipping costs have skyrocketed and then there is the global semiconductor shortage. On top of this Ransomware attacks have increased dramatically and it has not gotten the attention it normally would.

Cybersecurity is a big deal in 2021 if you want to keep your business safe. Attacks can lock down your entire system and leak sensitive information. Getting infected with ransomware can become very expensive. Large sums are being extorted and if you don’t pay the entire company can come to a standstill and even more money might be lost.

What is ransomware?

Cyber attacks in general are designed to damage your system or steal information. Ransomware is a subset of malware that focuses on locking down your system and/or your files. In general, you would see a locked computer screen or important files would be encrypted.

Ransomware can block any type of device including personal computers, tablets and phones. The files or devices will remain locked until a ransom is paid, often in hard-to-track cryptocurrency.

Ransomware attacks have almost doubled

During the first half of 2021 the amount of ransomware attacks have increased by 93% compared to the same timeframe in 2020. The increase is mainly due to so-called triple extortion. Triple extortion is when hackers steal sensitive information and threaten to release it publicly. At the same time, both your customers and suppliers will be targeted.

On top of the doubled ransomware attacks, all cyber attacks have increased by 29%. The largest increase has been to organizations in the EMEA region (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) where attacks are up 36%. In second place is the Americas region where attacks are up 24%.

Ransomware attacks have been specifically targeting companies’ supply chains. One example is the high-profile attack on SolarWinds, a company that develops software for managing networks, systems and IT infrastructure.

6 Actions to keep your business safe

In order to prevent ransomware and cyber attacks, there are a number of precautions you can take. In the end, they might save you a lot of money and trouble.

  1. Keep your systems updated. Many updates are made to address weaknesses in the code. If the weaknesses aren’t fixed hackers might exploit them. If you’re using rugged devices it might be hard to keep an eye on every device in the field. Handheld group provides a free MDM system which will let your IT department manage updates remotely.
  2. Use a firewall, ransomware protection and antivirus program. This one is pretty self-explanatory. Make sure you have complete protection as well as research the best option for your business.
  3. Propper password management. Make sure everyone uses a complex password and not the name of their kids. When giving employees new passwords do it verbally or written on paper. Never email them where hackers can easily find them.
  4. Backup your database. Keep all of your important systems backed up on external harddrives. If your system gets locked by a ransomware attack you can still access your data.
  5. Create a policy for cyber security. Keep a policy in place for how devices and passwords should be used. It’s important to make sure all of the employees read this and agree to it. On top of this it’s generally a good idea to have a response plan for your IT department in case you’re the victim of an attack.
  6. Do not use devices that are too old. Microsoft recently announced that Windows 11 will not be supported on all devices. There is a reason for this, hardware also affects security. Take it into account even if you do not use a Windows OS.