October 20, 2020

Are You Vulnerable to a Ransomware Attack?


Businesses of all sizes have become targets of ransomware as it can infect not only personal computers but also entire networks and servers. Research from technology solutions provider Datto indicates that 20% of ransomware victims are small and mid-sized businesses. Because they create massive business interruptions and can lead to significant reputational harm for the impacted organization, ransomware attacks are particularly damaging.

What Is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a type of malicious software cyber criminals use to deny access to systems or data until a ransom is paid. After the initial infection, the ransomware attempts to spread to shared storage drives and other accessible systems. If the demands are not met, the system or encrypted data remains unavailable. In some cases, data may be deleted altogether.

Typically, the hackers behind the ransomware demand bitcoin—a type of digital currency that is difficult for police to trace. Experts recommend against paying the ransom. After all, there is no guarantee that you will regain access to your computer, network or files after you pay. Furthermore, by paying the ransom, you could be encouraging future cybercrimes.

How Ransomware Can Spread

There are different ways that ransomware can spread, including the following:

  • Visiting imposter or unsafe websites
  • Opening emails or email attachments from unknown sources
  • Clicking on suspicious links in emails or on social media

Examine Your Ransomware Exposures

In addition to cyber insurance, a strong commitment to cybersecurity is crucial to protect your organization from ransomware attacks. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) recommends examining the following questions to determine if your organization is prepared to address the risks presented by ransomware:

  1. Backups — Does your organization back up all critical information? Are the backups stored offline? Has your organization tested your ability to revert to backups during an incident?
  2. Risk analysis — Has your organization conducted a cybersecurity risk analysis of the entire organization?
  3. Staff training — Has your organization trained its staff on cybersecurity best practices?
  4. Vulnerability patching — Has your organization implemented appropriate patching of known system vulnerabilities?
  5. Application whitelisting — Does your organization allow only approved programs to run on your network?
  6. Incident response — Does your organization have an incident response plan in place for ransomware attacks, and has it been tested?
  7. Business continuity — Is your organization able to sustain operations without access to certain systems? If so, for how long?
  8. Penetration testing — Has your organization or a trusted third party attempted to hack your own systems to test the security of your systems and your ability to defend against attacks?

For more information on assessing your organization’s cyber exposures, contact a member of our team today.

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