Malware is the most common cybercrime threatening businesses in Australia, with more than $1 billion lost every single year. Ransomware, a virulent form of malware, is becoming more prevalent, with a 114 percent increase in reported cases between 2015 and 2016.
What is ransomware? And, how can it impact businesses?
Let’s explore these issues in greater detail.
What is Ransomware?
Ransomware is a type of infectious malware (malicious software) that infiltrates a computer, encrypts files on the computer, and demands a ransom. The hacker promises to return access to the files after the ransom is paid.
According to the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC), ransomware is “constantly evolving and highly successful. [Attackers] target a broad range of sectors including government, resources, business, educational institutions and home users.”
How Does Ransomware Infect a Computer?
Like a lot malicious software, ransomware often infects a computer via an email attachment.
Cybercriminals create emails that claim to be from legitimate companies, such as banks, postal companies, and internet service providers. The emails instruct the user to download the attachment, which may be disguised as an important letter, a bill, or a bank statement. As the user downloads the attachment, they download the ransomware.
You can learn more about recognising malevolent emails in our article How to Spot Phishing Emails: 5 Tell-Tale Signs.
How Much Do Attackers Demand in Ransom?
This varies from attack to attack. The ACSC reports an average of $500 to $3,000, which is to be paid in Bitcoin (a virtual currency that gives cybercriminals anonymity).
Larger businesses have been targeted in ransomware attacks, which have demanded upwards of $10,000.
Do keep in mind, if you choose to pay the ransom, there is no guarantee your files will be returned.
The Impact of Ransomware on Business
The services industry is the most targeted by ransomware, accounting for more than one-third of all attacks in Australia in the last few years. Businesses in this sector tend to create, view, and share a large amount of data online.
The Potential Cost of Ransomware for Business
Cybercrime is big business. Check out the following stats from Norton for a better understanding of the monetary cost of ransomware and other malware in Australia.
- Cybercrime has cost Australians $1.2 billion in the past year.
- 7 million Australians (that is, one in five) say they have been victims of a cybercrime in the past year.
- On average, a cyber-attack costs the user $325 and takes 7 hours to restore.
- Every day, there are 24,000 ransomware attacks around the world.
- Australia is the 8th most impacted country.
The cost of ransomware goes beyond money. If your business is facing ransomware, you risk the following:
- Paying to replace compromised computers, smartphones, tablets, and other infected devices.
- Losing valuable data.
- Downtime, which reduces productivity and can impact customer satisfaction.
- Reputational damage.
How to Deal with Ransomware
If you face a ransomware attack in your place of business, follow these steps:
- Isolate the computer. Disconnect the infected device from the Internet and from your business network. This should prevent the malware from spreading.
- Don’t pay the ransom. As we mentioned above, there is no guarantee that the attacker will release your data.
- Consider your backups. Do you have a backup of all important files? Or, if the infected computer is rendered unusable, will vital data be lost?
- Contact professionals as soon as possible. Talk to someone that knows exactly how to respond to a ransomware attack. By working with a professional technician, you have the greatest chance of restoring your device and decrypting your data.
Get Help with Malware
Are you facing a malware attack? Get in contact as soon as you can. The longer you leave it, the more difficult it will become to restore your computer and retrieve your files. Our team has years of experience dealing with malicious software and we’re here to help you with malware removal – get in contact today. We can also help you with our data backup service, and ensure that your email security is up to scratch. We specailise in all small business IT support as well. Call on 1300 553 166, or fill out the form on this page.