Ransomware – Small Businesses Under Vicious Attack

5 August 2016

Small businesses under vicious attack

The persistence of hackers is relentless.  The problem is a huge worry amongst the digital based community and records of successful attacks are at an alarming high.  Below is one of the main cybersecurity threats predicted to worsen throughout 2016.


‘Ransom’ attacks are fast becoming the biggest threat in cyber scams on the web.  Ransomware is a type of malware that limits users accessing their systems or prevents them using their computer by locking all of their software.  Typically, these attacks are carried out in the pursuit of demanding a sum of money and data is usually locked until these demands are met.

The number of attacks have increased considerably since 2015, when it saw one of the most vicious infections causing the United States and Canada to issue a joint alert on the threat of ransomware. This is a worldwide problem.


Ransomware attacks affect business

Extortion hacks play into the biggest fears of companies and managers where recently some large organisations have experienced threats regarding leaked company information. Ransomware attacks tend to target specific industries.  Size and volume are the main characteristics that hackers target. Research conducted by Avecto found that 30% of UK councils were victim to at least one ransom attack in 2015. An astounding 90,000 computers in one day have been reported to have been hacked by a ‘professional’ cyber attacker.

However, it is common for small businesses to be the primary targets of ransomware attacks.  The reasons are commercial – usually, small businesses lack funds to own high-tech and anti-virus defence mechanisms.  This makes them extremely vulnerable.

Overwhelmingly, Intel reported that nearly 80% of small businesses don’t own or use some form of data protection security – an advantage for cyber attackers?  Undoubtedly.

A price to be paid 

How profitable is ransomware?

Very.  The ransom that is demanded from small businesses is often around £1000.  For small businesses this amount is simply seen as a nuisance expense enforcing them to pay the fee instead of suffering stress and inconvenience and wasting time trying to resolve the problem.

Is their business model clever?  Perhaps.  But the damage caused to businesses can be devastating.

The biggest losses to any business under a ransom attack are financial and REPUTATIONAL.  Financial in the sense of having to pay attackers, potential loss of data and documents and the loss in time for a business having to resolve the problem.  If customer data is lost, reputational damage can be just as costly and in the worse cases, force a company to close.

A Stop to Ransomware

The prevention of ransomware attacks is difficult but not impossible.  The vast amount of software available in today’s society creates numerous opportunities for hackers to attack.  Basic cyber security actions can provide a business with a substantial degree of protection.

A few prevention tips:

Avoid opening any unverified email links

Backup important documents and make several copies, always have an offsite backup

Never pay the ransom price – this does not stop the problem

Strong blocking software should be employed

Consult with a cybersecurity expert if unsure on what to do in an attack.  They are the professionals and can provide bespoke advice

These prevention tips can help small businesses prevent or survive ransomware cyberattacks. Businesses should be able to detect malicious emails and different phishing methods that attackers use, helping to stop the severe impacts that ransomware cybercrime causes.

Cyber Essentials is a Government-backed, industry supported foundation for basic cyber security hygiene.  The Scheme has been carefully designed to guide organisations of any size in protecting themselves against cyber threats. Click Here for more information on the Cyber Essentials Scheme and how it can help in protecting your business, or alternatively call 0247 771 7780 or email info@intaforensics.com for more information.

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