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The Cost of Ransomware

More financial impacts as a result of ransomware

If you follow the cybersecurity world at all, you’ve probably heard the phrase “ransomware” at some point. That, or your expert IT team has brought it up on more than one occasion – for good reason. Ransomware is a dangerous form of malware capable of infecting networks and systems, specifically with the intent to encrypt information.

Why is called it ransomware? As the name implies, the goal of this malware is to hold data hostage, the more valuable the better. Typically, ransomware targets company data, networks, and even infrastructure. Once infected, ransomware will lock information behind encryption, or sometimes the entire operating system. This encrypted data cannot be retrieved until the “ransom” is paid.

This leads to devastating financial costs, and often, businesses are forced to meet the demands because their information is critical and necessary for normal operations. What kind of costs, exactly?

How ransomware impacted a state

Here’s a recent example:

The state of Florida had to pay $1.1 million in IT costs because of a ransomware infection. That’s right, the state – because ransomware is capable of attacking infrastructure systems, not only company data or personal computers.

Lake City, for instance, was on the list of victims following a ransomware attack. The city had to pay the hackers 42 bitcoin (equivalent to $573,000). The hackers compromised their communication infrastructure – including phones and email – for two weeks.

Riviera Beach was also a target, losing its valuable data due to a staff member clicking a malicious link, forcing the city to pay 65 bitcoin ($897,650 in value). Because ransomware is so dangerous, the city was unable to remove the malware through traditional means (like anti-virus software).

Systems were unusable, though a backup method kept personal information like user credit cards and sensitive data out of the hacker’s hands. But, without a proper resolution, the city had no choice but to pay the demanded amount for the continued use of their communication services.

This is only one harrowing occurrence caused by ransomware. Stories like this are common for people, businesses, and yes – even cities. Atlanta, for example, is still recovering from an $18 million digital bombshell it suffered because of a ransomware assault back in March 2018.

The fallout

It’s never safe to assume that because you’re a smaller organization ransomware couldn’t possibly affect you, either. But this isn’t true, and the costs are often devastating. Worse yet, though officials and cybersecurity experts discourage giving in to the demands of hackers, it’s easy to see why attacking systems is so lucrative. When it’s both difficult to remove and track the person(s) responsible for this malware, paying ransom only encourages them, increasing attack frequency.

Sounds scary, so what can be done?

It’s critical to invest in backups, recovery options, and security measures to shield data. Routine tests of a company’s security measures and policies are critical when evaluating whether or not IT infrastructure is safe. Utilizing the services of specialized parties like an MSP (managed service provider) are also recommended options if your enterprise lacks the resources of a larger business. 

Bytagig strongly urges all organizations to invest in a triple layer defense consisting of good Antivirus/Antimalware software, a firewall, and multi-site backups.  If you’d like to learn more, contact us on Bytagig for additional information.

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