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Small Businesses Shutter as Ransomware Attacks Become More Common

ransomware attacks

Small Businesses Shutter as Ransomware Attacks Become More Common

According to an article by the New York Times, ransomware attacks have become more common and have forced businesses to close and have crippled city governments. Ransomware attacks are exactly what they sound like — cybercriminals lock and encrypt a victim’s computer or device data and then demand a ransom to restore access. In many cases, victims must pay within a set amount of time or risk losing their access and data forever. Many ransomware attacks are deployed by thieves, which means paying the ransom doesn’t ensure access will be restored.

Ransomware Attacks Become More Common

The exact number of attacks is hard to pinpoint as many victims quietly pay off their attackers without notifying the authorities. New data provides the best picture of the problem, with 205,280 organizations submitting files that had been hacked in a ransomware attack in 2019. This is a 41 percent increase from 2018 according to information provided to The New York Times by Emsisoft, a security firm that helps companies hit by ransomware. Average payments to release files spiked to $84,116 in the last quarter of 2019.

Ransomware attacks have forced businesses to shut down and have disrupted factories and basic infrastructure. The Coast Guard reported that ransomware forced a cargo transfer facility to shut down for more than 30 hours after ransomware attackers took control of industrial systems. The city of New Orleans, one of the dozens of cities hit, still conducts many operations on paper with police officers recording incidents manually.

Tips for Preventing Ransomware Attacks

Prevention is important in order to protect your personal data and that of your clients. Keep these tips in mind for preventing ransomware attacks:

  • Update Your Operating System and Software — Software and operating system updates often include “patches” for newly discovered security vulnerabilities. Keep your systems up to date to avoid leaving a vulnerability open for ransomware attackers.
  • Don’t Automatically Open Email Attachments — Avoid opening emails and attachments from untrusted or unfamiliar senders. Email is one of the primary methods for delivering ransomware. Emails with malicious code prevent you from accessing your data. Ransomware attacks will hold your data hostage and demand a ransom.
  • Backup Important Data — Cybercriminals gain leverage by encrypting valuable files and making them inaccessible. If you have backups on an external hard drive, they lose some of the advantage. Once the infection has been cleaned up you can restore your files. Make sure they are offline and inaccessible by attackers.
  • Use Cloud Services — Storing files in the cloud can help mitigate a ransomware attack as many services retain previous versions of files. This allows you to “roll back” to unencrypted files.
  • Don’t Pay the Ransom — Even if you pay the ransom, you may not get your files back. Cybercriminals could ask you to pay again and again, extorting money from you without ever releasing your data.

Some businesses and city governments have started taking out insurance to prepare for ransomware demands. Many businesses day they won’t pay the attackers, but some do. Cybersecurity insurance claims have risen. Law enforcement officials warn against giving attackers confidence that they will get paid, but attacks have become widespread enough.

What is Cyber Privacy Liability Insurance?

Ransomware attacks and other data breaches have become a common threat to small business owners. Any personal data collected from your customers exposes you to a personal liability loss or Cyber Liability Insurance loss. Ransomware attackers know small businesses don’t always have the sophisticated firewall systems in place to protect their customer data from theft. While cyber liability insurance won’t prevent an attack, it can help defray the costs that come with repairing the damage to your business.

Protect Your Data

Protect your data and your customers by taking steps to prevent ransomware attacks and other malicious code attacks. Contact Bancorp Insurance to learn more about Cyber Liability Insurance and to receive a free Cyber/Privacy Insurance quote.

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