On May 12, a ransomware attack disrupted businesses around the globe. Called WannaCry, the malicious software encrypted files on infected computers and then offered to restore the files – in exchange for a payment. More than 300,000 machines in 150 countries were hit.
Although this attack was especially large-scale, ransomware has been around for a while. According to the FBI, ransomware attacks are becoming both more common and more sophisticated. Some attacks depend on emails with links to malicious code, while others hide their code in legitimate websites.
As ransomware attacks like WannaCry become the norm, no organization should assume it’s safe. Even small businesses may find themselves the victims of this cyberattack.
After a ransomware attack, some organizations give into the cybercriminals’ demands and make the requested payment, usually in Bitcoins. In a White House Press Briefing on the Monday after the WannaCry attack, Tom Bossert reported that around $70,000 had been paid so far.
Although this may be the fastest way to resume normal business operations in some cases, it is far from ideal. First of all, it costs the organization money. Second, it encourages cybercriminals to launch more ransomware attacks. The money may also be used to fund other illegal activities. Furthermore, there’s no guarantee that the files will actually be restored. Bossert reported that, as far as he knew, payments made to the cyber criminals behind WannaCry had not resulted in any recovered files. Nevertheless, many organizations see no other option.
The ideal solution, of course, is to avoid becoming a victim of ransomware in the first place.
Business owners should do several things to protect their companies from ransomware.
M. Brant Watson
Senior Vice President
Heffernan Insurance Brokers
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