Arrow back

What is ransomware and can you prevent it?

19 July, 2022

If you’re fortunate to have never encountered the term ‘ransomware’, you’re lucky to be in the minority.

Indeed, the reality of the cyber landscape is such that ransomware attacks have caused severe problems for businesses across nearly all industries, with 80% of organisations hit by a ransomware attack in 2021.

But what is ransomware, how can you prevent attacks, and what should you do in the event of a successful ransomware attack? Join us as we share everything you need to know.

What is ransomware?

Ransomware is malware designed to lock users out of their system or from accessing their files. After cybercriminals have activated their malware, they demand a ransom be paid to regain users’ access to their systems.

Cybercriminals frequently request payments be made using cryptocurrencies, making them almost impossible to trace. Indeed, 2019 research found that Bitcoin accounted for 98% of ransomware payments.

One of the most high-profile and severe ransomware attacks involved the Colonial Pipeline, a Texas-based gas pipeline. A ransomware attack caused six days of enormous disruption to the system. The attack was classed as a national security threat, with the President declaring a state of emergency. The malware infected the systems due to a compromised VPN password, and Colonial Pipeline Company ended up paying almost $5 million in Bitcoin.

While this example affected a large organisation, there are many cases where cybercriminals target smaller organisations, exploiting the fact that smaller businesses are unable to operate without access to their systems. Smaller businesses can often fall into the trap of neglecting their cybersecurity, believing an attack isn’t the sort of thing that would happen to them.

How to prevent ransomware attacks

For businesses, having an effective cybersecurity management strategy is critical to preventing and recovering from ransomware attacks. The strategy should include:

  • Delivering high-quality training and education for employees, including topics such as avoiding opening unverified emails or clicking links within suspicious emails.
  • Backing up important files on two different types of storage e.g. cloud and hard drive.
  • Performing regular software updates.
  • Access management to limit who can access network drives.
  • Good password creation practice.
  • Installation of anti-virus and anti-malware software

What to do in the event of a ransomware attack

There are several actions you should take to limit the damage caused by a ransomware attack, such as:
Report the incident to the authorities.

  • Isolate the infection by separating infected computers.
  • Identify which strain of malware was used in the attack.
  • Restore your backups.
  • Update employees to warn of a follow-up attack.
  • Investigate the root cause and develop an action plan to prevent future cyberattacks.

If a ransomware attack has not targeted your organisation, there is a possibility that it will happen in the future.

Any organisation that relies on using connected systems can be a victim of ransomware, not just the big companies with large profits. Many businesses think they are not large enough to be worth attacking, making them prime targets for cybercriminals.

Many cyberattacks target human vulnerabilities, as security software can only do so much to prevent these types of attacks. If an employee receives an email with a dangerous link, their training should have prepared them to spot the suspicious email and know what actions should be taken to help protect the business.

Bob’s Business is an industry-leading cybersecurity training provider that is helping businesses reduce the chances of being hit with ransomware attacks through engaging, relatable training courses and simulations.

Back to resources

Ready to build your cybersecurity culture?

Whether you’re looking for complete culture change, phishing simulations or compliance training, we have solutions that are tailor-made to fit for your organisation.

Girl with laptop
Boy with laptop
man and woman with laptops
Global Cyber Alliance