Cyber Security

Ransomware is still a growing and serious threat to businesses

Written by Ryan Weeks, CISO, Datto

As working practices shift, organisations need to be more diligent about detecting  and responding to evolving cyber security threats – including malware and ransomware, which the latest Datto European State of the Channel Ransomware report shows is impacting businesses more than ever before. Over half of surveyed MSPs stated that a ransomware attack has the potential to put a company out of business.  At a minimum there is a loss of business productivity after an attack, alongside lost data or devices and decreased client profitability (33%). Systems downtime related to ransomware attacks is as much as 300% in Europe (100% higher than the global average) and costs related to attacks average around £108,000, per incident. Even more concerning,  in around a third of reported attacks the infection spread to other devices on the network. One in five businesses confirmed ransomware had damaged their reputation, with further repercussions down the line.

Protecting the network against ransomware

In the event of an attack, recovery is possible, but the ability to restore business systems quickly depends on consistent and workable system backups. Being prepared is key. Every business should have a robust remediation plan in place with defined responsibilities.

To minimise the risk of being badly affected by ransomware, organisations can follow these steps:

  1. Take ransomware seriously. While 82% of MSPs are ‘very concerned’ about ransomware, only 8% reported that their SME clients felt the same – despite the business-threatening downtime implications.
  2. Don’t fall victim to phishing. These emails are still the main cause of successful ransomware attacks (65%), followed by a lack of security training, weak passwords and poor access management
  3. Implement two-factor authentication. Strong identity and access management greatly reduces the risk of cybercriminals entering the network.
  4. Review patching practices. Make sure you install software patches as soon as they are released.
  5. Don’t trust your defences. Antivirus software, email filters and endpoint detection are all essential parts of your security programme, but on their own they don’t provide reliable protection against ransomware.
  6. Put in place a solid business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) strategy. A reliable BCDR solution is one of the most effective tools against ransomware. 
  7. Remember cloud data is also a risk. Endpoint and SaaS backup solutions for fast restores are critical.
  8. Get help from experts and choose them carefully. Rely on an MSP who has the resources and expertise to do 24/7 security monitoring and who can respond quickly to new threats. 
  9. Make sure they have cyber liability insurance.

MSPs predict that the threat will only grow, with Internet of Things (IoT) devices and social media accounts.  With one in five businesses confirming that ransomware has damaged their reputation and had far-reaching repercussions, SMEs need to shore up their security posture along with putting in place the remediation plans to ensure business continuity and mitigate risk. For businesses, the time to act is now.