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How the Threat of Ransomware Impacts YOUR Industry

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Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts data and demands a ransom be paid in order to decrypt it. These attacks have become increasingly common in recent years, and they show no signs of slowing down. While any organization can be the target of a ransomware attack, there are some organizations that are particularly at risk. 

These specific sectors are often targeted by industry-specific ransomware, which is designed to exploit the unique characteristics of each business and function. As a result, all industries must take extra care to protect themselves from these threats. 

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage the world, industries that rely on online services and data storage have been under constant attack from hackers. In 2020 alone, the U.S. FBI saw a 300% increase in cybercrimes since the beginning of the pandemic. This dramatic uptick in hacking has been targeting industries that are particularly vulnerable to cyberattacks.

Organizations of all types are at risk of being hacked, but some industries are more susceptible than others. The following six industries are among the most vulnerable to cyberattacks:

While any organization can be the target of a ransomware attack, there are some organizations that are particularly at risk. Is your industry on the list? Find out via @Opti9Tech : Click to Tweet

Small Businesses

In many small businesses, cybersecurity is not a priority, making them easy to hack. Verizon's 2019 Data Breach Investigation Report reports that 43% of cyberattacks are directed toward small businesses, which makes them the largest target of all cyberattacks.

While small businesses may be an easy target for hackers, there are some simple steps they can take to improve their cybersecurity and protect themselves from attacks. One of the most important things small businesses can do is educate their employees about cyber threats and how to spot them. 

Employees should know never to open attachments or click links from unknown senders, and they should be aware of phishing attempts. In addition, businesses should invest in malware protection and make sure all their devices are up-to-date with the latest security patches. By taking these precautions, small businesses can make themselves a less attractive target for hackers and help protect their customers’ and employees’ data.

In today's cyber landscape, nearly every organization needs experts to help secure their data and keep hackers at bay. Here are five methods to fight back against the growing threat of ransomware and protect your data:Click to Tweet

Healthcare 

A high percentage of healthcare organizations are attacked with ransomware, which can result in sensitive patient information being lost. In fact, the threat of ransomware attacks against healthcare organizations continued to grow in 2020, with almost one-third of all attacks being ransomware cases. This represents a significant increase compared to 2019, when only around 15% of all cyberattacks were ransomware cases and the numbers continue to climb.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made healthcare organizations more susceptible to attack, as cybercriminals have taken advantage of increased patient volume. In addition, the number of devices connected to healthcare networks has increased, providing more opportunities for attackers to gain access. It is essential for healthcare organizations to take steps to protect themselves from these attacks. This includes ensuring that all devices are properly secured and implementing strong security measures such as data encryption. By taking these steps, healthcare organizations can help to reduce the risk of being victimized by a ransomware attack.

Government Agencies

In 2020, 79 ransomware attacks were made on United States government organizations, which added up to $18.8 billion in recovery costs and downtime. Ransomware makes up the majority of all cyberattacks on government agencies; however, only 38% of state and local employees are trained in ransomware prevention. 

Once your systems are locked, you have to figure out how to get them back online without paying the ransom, which can be difficult—and costly. Not to mention, there’s no guarantee that the hacker will actually give you the key to unlock your system even if you do pay the ransom. That’s why it’s so important for government agencies to invest in cybersecurity training for their employees. By being proactive about cybersecurity, government agencies can help prevent ransomware attacks—and the costly repercussions that come with them.

Financial Institutions

Financial services companies hold large amounts of customer data, making them prime targets for hackers. In addition, these companies are often required to comply with strict regulations, which can make it difficult to quickly recover from a hack. Ransomware attacks can be enormously damaging to a financial institution, as they can result in the loss of sensitive customer data. In addition, ransomware attacks can also cause significant financial damage, as the ransom must often be paid in Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. 

As more and more people turn to mobile banking, criminals are following suit and finding new ways to exploit this growing trend. One of the most common and dangerous scams is known as app-based trojaning, which involves creating a fake version of a bank's login page and overlaying it on top of the legitimate app. Once someone enters their credentials into the fake login page, the trojan steals their login information, many times without the person even knowing they've been compromised. This stolen information can then be used to gain access to the victim's bank account and drain it of funds. In some cases, the criminals will also demand a ransom from the victim in exchange for not releasing their personal information publicly. 

This threat of ransomware makes app-based trojaning even more dangerous, as it puts victims in a very difficult position. If you use mobile banking, it's important to be aware of this threat and take steps to protect yourself, such as only downloading apps from trusted sources and keeping your device up-to-date with the latest security patches.

As a result, FinTech companies have been working hard to develop new ways to protect against ransomware attacks. One promising solution is the use of blockchain technology. Blockchain is a distributed ledger system that offers enhanced security and transparency. By storing data on a blockchain, financial institutions can make it much more difficult for hackers to access and tamper with sensitive data. As the threat of ransomware continues to grow, blockchain may emerge as an important tool for protecting against these attacks.

Education 

Schools and universities store large amounts of personal data, making them attractive targets for hackers. In addition, many educational institutions use outdated software and hardware, which makes them easier to exploit.

In recent years, the increased use of technology for teaching and learning has made schools more vulnerable to cyberattacks. Microsoft Security Intelligence reports 62% of nearly 5.8 million malware cases reported came from the education sector. 

In 2020, half of all attacks on the education sector were spam or adware, while 10% of attacks were ransomware. In many cases, hackers were able to shut down online education systems, affecting millions of students around the world. The threat of ransomware is particularly worrisome for schools, as it can disable access to important data and systems unless a ransom is paid. With the continued increase in cyberattacks, it’s essential for schools to invest in security measures to protect their systems and data.

Retail

In recent years, retailers have become increasingly reliant on customer data. This data is used to track inventory levels, analyze consumer behavior, and target marketing efforts. However, it also makes retailers attractive targets for hackers. A successful hack can result in the theft of millions of records, which can be used to commit fraud or sold on the dark web. In addition, hackers have also begun using ransomware to demand payment from retailers in exchange for not releasing stolen data. 

As a result, retailers must be vigilant in protecting their customer data from the threat of cyberattacks. Retailers must be vigilant in protecting their customer data from the threat of cyberattacks. One way to do this is to invest in robust cybersecurity measures, such as firewalls and intrusion detection systems. In addition, retailers should also encrypt their data and regularly back up their files to minimize the impact of a successful attack. By taking these steps, retailers can help protect themselves from the threat of cyberattacks.

Energy and Utility

In 2021, hackers were able to take down the largest fuel pipeline in the U.S., which led to gas shortages across the East Coast. While this was a major event, it’s just one of many ransomware attacks that have been carried out in recent years. 

A recent report by FireEye warns this industry will likely continue to be a high-priority target for hackers, given its importance to national and economic security. The threat of ransomware is only increasing, and energy and utility companies must be prepared to defend themselves against these attacks. As our dependence on technology grows, so too does our vulnerability to these types of attacks. It is essential that we work to address this threat before it causes even more damage.

How to Fight Back

As the threat of ransomware attacks continues to grow, all industries must take steps to protect themselves. Strong firewalls and frequent updates to antivirus software are essential, but even if something worrisome does slip through, all is not lost. 

Contain and Respond

With proper containment and response procedures in place, organizations can minimize the damage and prevent future attacks. In the event of an attack, staff should be trained to recognize the signs and know how to report them. Once an attack is reported, the company can then take steps to contain it, rebuild any damaged machines, and prevent similar attacks in the future. 

Backup and Segment

Experts advise a 3-2-1 backup approach. That's saving three copies of all critical data in at least two different formats and storing one copy offline, out of reach of malicious code. Segmentation - the dividing of networks into smaller sections - can further bolster ransomware defenses. 

Instead of shutting down the entire system when you detect ransomware in part of your network, segmentation allows you to quickly quarantine that segment. A company with 20,000 computers can't have 20,000 networks, but maybe it could have 200.

Educate and Collaborate

In the cybersecurity world, perhaps the most powerful tool is an institution's human capital, experts suggest. To be effective, an education program needs to show staff what fake emails look like. Often, such messages include an urgent request for sensitive information like a password to avoid the shuttering of an account, which can get recipients to act before thinking. 

By partnering with employees and treating them as part of the solution, organizations can create a powerful line of defense against ransomware and other cyber threats.

As the threat of ransomware continues to grow, it's clear that companies need to have emergency plans that integrate teams far beyond the IT department. While IT may be the front line when it comes to dealing with malware, they can't do it alone. 

In order to effectively respond to a ransomware attack, businesses need to have a plan that includes everyone from the CEO to the janitor. By involving all departments in the planning process, businesses can ensure that everyone knows what their role is and how they can help to mitigate the damage caused by an attack. With a comprehensive plan in place, businesses can minimize the impact of a ransomware attack and quickly get back on their feet.

DIY Security Against Ransomware

It’s always wise to reconsider your approach to information security. One way to help protect your data is to limit access to information. By only giving employees access to the systems and data they need for their role, you can reduce the chances of sensitive information falling into the wrong hands. 

Performing regular vulnerability assessments can help identify potential security weaknesses so they can be addressed before a breach occurs. Installing firewalls on all employee devices can help block potential hackers. However, it's important to make sure that the firewalls are always up-to-date in order to be effective. 

Wi-Fi is now an essential part of our lives, both at home and at work. With the rise of cloud computing and the Internet of Things, we rely on wireless networks more than ever before. To protect your business from the threats Wi-Fi can pose, it's important to take some basic precautions. 

Make sure your network is using WPA2 encryption, change the administrative password on new devices, and set your wireless access point so that it does not broadcast its SSID. You should also avoid using Wired-Equivalent Privacy (WEP), as this protocol is easily cracked by hackers, and be sure to keep your business network and your guest or customer network separate. 

Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS)

DRaaS is so much more than replicating data to another location. A  fully-managed disaster recovery plan will help you minimize downtime, free up your people, and ensure your business continues to run smoothly. Experts analyze all aspects, from data backup procedures to determine the best location for securing servers during emergencies or disasters. With Opti9’s full-stack ownership and accountability, you can have complete control and confidence in your plan.

Ransomware Detection 

Ransomware detection services such as Observr by Opti9 take your disaster recovery and backup strategy to new heights. like Observr uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to detect anomalies that may be indicative of ransomware or other malicious activities. This includes anomalies of incremental backup and replica sizes, retention settings, encryption settings, job modifications, deletions, and more. 

Hire the Right People to Help

In today's cyber landscape, nearly every organization needs experts to help secure their data and keep hackers at bay. However, the growing demand for these professionals has far outpaced the amount of talent available. As a result, many organizations have been forced to hire IT professionals with little to no experience in cybersecurity. While these individuals may be able to provide some basic protection, they are often unable to effectively combat more sophisticated threats, such as ransomware. 

Instead, organizations can outsource to experienced cybersecurity professionals to provide the skills and knowledge necessary to keep their data safe. However, even with the right team in place, organizations cannot rest on their laurels. They must continue to invest in training and development so that their cybersecurity team can stay ahead of the curve.

Protect your organization from ransomware; schedule a free consultation with Opti9 today.

Opti9 Provides Technology Solutions for Today's Modern Businesses

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