As the name implies, ransomware is a type of malware the blocks a company from accessing its data until they pay the hacker. The cost of the ransom can range from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars or even more. Hackers commonly deploy two types of ransomware. The first is locker ransomware, which locks the user out of their device. A skilled cybersecurity expert can sometimes override this kind of ransomware.

The second presents a much greater challenge. Crypto ransomware encrypts the target’s files. A message will pop up demanding payment in exchange for a decryption key. Regardless of which type a hacker employs, ransomware can bring business to a halt. Whether the cyber attacker targets sensitive customer data, data needed for business operations, or locks down the entire network, it poses a serious threat to companies of all sizes.

How Ransomware Infiltrates a Company

Phishing scams are the most common method hackers use. Employees may click a link or download an attachment that appears to be from a trusted source. After this, the ransomware either tricks the user into giving it administrative access or exploits security weaknesses. Older versions of Microsoft Windows are particularly vulnerable, as they no longer receive security updates. Companies that fail to update their computers regularly are also at risk, as they aren’t up to date on the latest security threats either.

Who Do Hackers Target?

When a major organization experiences data breaches, it usually makes headlines in the news. This does not mean that hackers only target the big fish in the corporate pond. Small and medium-sized businesses are just as likely—if not more so—to be a target because they are typically easy prey. Smaller businesses aren’t often aware of their security needs and lack basic protection as a result. Many have no training on how to prevent phishing scams or how to handle a cyberattack.

Hackers are more likely to target certain industries and niches, including finance, healthcare, and online stores. How companies conduct business also makes them more susceptible to cyberattacks. Storing data on the cloud, accepting payments online, and conducting business online all represent entry points for hackers to utilize.

How Ransomware Cripples Companies

More often than not, the only option a company has is to pay the ransom. However, the cost of ransomware goes well beyond the demanded payment. Companies can’t conduct business until they pay the ransom, which results in lost income. The public also loses trust in companies after a data breach, and organizations may lose existing customers as well as new business opportunities. Paying the ransom isn’t a guarantee either, as hackers may not return all the data intact.

Paying the ransom is usually the most direct and effective method of regaining access to the data. However, the costs involved can bankrupt companies that don’t have adequate protection. Contact a professional advisor at Windermere Insurance Group to learn more about insuring your organization against cyber threats.