Ransomware attacks severely impact businesses. Realizing its harmful effects will encourage companies to prepare strong plans and strategies to prevent them. Digital transformation has also increased cyber-risks. As more companies go digital, ransomware opportunities and risk also increase.
Among the types of attacks, ransomware news took major attention among companies, where many industrial leaders took huge financial hits.
As attacks become severe, most companies increasingly invest in cyber-security tools, software, and solutions to secure critical assets.
In this article, we see the impacts of ransomware on a company and ways to minimize them.
Overview of Ransomware Attacks
Ransomware attacks can happen in many ways. But the most common ones are phishing emails, software and app downloads, networks, and unsecured operating systems.
When attackers gain access to the assets, they spread malware, encrypt sensitive data, block websites, and accesses. Then, they demand ransom to release the data.
If businesses do not pay the ransom, the malicious actors sell the data on the dark web. The biggest fear is that this flouts all data privacy laws. Businesses agree to pay anything to keep their market and internal data secure.
Sometimes, they go a step beyond. In some cases, hackers/attackers also threaten to publicize their data online. This could do extreme harm to the brand trust in the business community.
This clearly explains how catastrophic ransomware attacks can be to any business.
Impact of Ransomware Attacks on Businesses
Ransomware attacks have become a main concern for businesses of all sizes. They pose higher risks than before. The impact is huge because it mainly occurs on operations, finances, data, online networking, and apps.
These attacks force them to rebuild business operations and modify their infected systems.
Here are the real impacts that businesses face.
1. Damages Brand Reputation
Forbes Insights’ report The Reputational Impact of It Risk states that
They damage critical assets like data, codes, and hack access points. These are core elements that a business does not share publicly or even with employees.
Solutions to Prevent Brand Reputation Damage
The easiest way to prevent this is to avoid the attacks from occurring in the first place. For this, companies should implement:
- Ransomware detection technology
- Restrict access to a database and online networks
- Apply authentication codes and passwords
Strengthen IT infrastructure and supply chain division with robust online and offline cybersecurity protection layers.
2. Sensitive Data Exposure
Most ransomware infections occur through data exfiltration that exposes data. Attackers use different techniques for this, such as:
- Automated exfiltration
- Use alternative protocols
- Exfiltration through website services
- Data transfer and migration
The impact of these attacks on data results in data loss, data leaks, and data selling. In addition, attackers use data exfiltration methods to force companies to make ransom payments.
Solutions to avoid it
The most effective way to prevent it is by regularly conducting data backups. Companies should also timely delete or remove obsolete and inactive data. Proper data management should be implemented to track data access, access controls, and detect exfiltration notes.
3. Increase in Downtime
Statista’s report Length of impact after a ransomware attack worldwide Q1 2020- Q2 2022 finds that in the second quarter of 2022,
The duration of the downtime has been increased during 2020-2022 from 15 days to 24 days.
So, why does the impact remain for long?
Companies hit by these attacks mainly face two challenges:
- Where users want to access their data, and
- IT infrastructure lacks methods to identify the causes of attacks.
That said, the focus remains on recovery efforts.
In some cases, companies conduct manual recovery methods, which adds to the long and complex process of retrieving data.
Solutions to Avoid Downtime
Companies should have a ransomware recovery plan and guide in place. Most importantly, CISOs should invest in cyber-security technologies and tools that effectively detect, monitor, and maintain security frameworks.
It also includes policies that keep the security framework strong, functional, and controlled by admins, so attackers cannot enter any weak points.
Automated techs like AI ML will keep a check on potential threats by constantly monitoring.
Similarly, cloud networks should have strict firewalls and anti-viruses.
4. Legal and regulatory implications
A ransomware attack can also impact businesses legally and through regulatory implications. It happens because different companies deal with different data types. So, depending on what data is compromised, businesses report the incident to regulatory authorities.
In some cases, this may face legal action and fines or penalties. If customers or employees suffer financial harm from the attack, companies must pay huge legal penalties, settlements, or damages.
Solutions to prevent huge fees
To avoid this, companies should practice good security hygiene. It includes patch management, securing operating systems, installing antivirus software, and regular updating.
There should be security awareness programs for employees. They need awareness about updated security risks, prevention measures, and ways to use cyber-security tools.
Companies should also implement multi-layer prevention capabilities. These will safeguard enterprise entry points for networks and servers to combat ransomware attacks.
Proper evaluation of security service providers should be actively done to check for any weak points.
5. Ransomware as an entry for future attacks
Ransomware attacks are also a gateway to future attacks. The attackers find additional weak points during their initial attempts on various areas, like IT systems, servers, apps, networks, etc.
So, these weak points are more likely to exploit the business harder and demand more ransom pay.
Companies should update their cyber-security software, and security policies to prevent attacks.
CISO should invest in the anti-ransomware software solutions, such as:
- Content Deconstruction and reconstruction (CDR) technology
- Endpoint Detection & Response
- Data ransom recovery manager
Companies should have robust strategies to protect business assets, brand reputation, and financial position from the impact of ransomware.
Checking weak points and implementing automated tools to monitor systems are highly recommended for companies if they do not want to fall prey to ransomware threats.