Last week we launched our first of three videos called “Meet Jim, A Model Employee … and Phishing Target” where Jeremy Piven discusses a major cybersecurity issue hitting organizations on a daily basis. The issue that was covered was phishing attacks that target innocent employees to take action that puts their personal information at risk and would take control of the corporate network. The message seems to be resonating with over 142,000 views within one week.
The second video that we are launching this week called “Ransomware Just Put Katie’s System Into Lockdown” centers around the major issue of ransomware and again, how an innocent employee who is getting hundreds of resumes for her role as an HR recruiter, gets duped to download malware by opening up a resume sent as a Word document. The malware ends up being ransomware and locks-up her machine until she pays a ransom to release her data.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation said ransomware attacks cost victims $209 million in the first three months of the year, which is about $330,000 an incident. And, almost 40 percent of enterprises have been hit by ransomware in the last year.
Here are three things to consider when it comes to ransomware:
- Ransomware cybercrime kits are readily accessible on the black market, enabling non-technical cybercriminals to license and deploy them in the execution of a ransomware campaign.
- Most organizations focus only on prevention, without formulating a “Plan B” to rely on when prevention doesn’t work. Traditional preventive systems, such as AV, are increasingly unable to detect and block the constantly changing flavors of ransomware.
- There is no single “ransomware security product” available. Since no single product can provide adequate protection because of the multifaceted nature of ransomware, and the creativity of the attackers who wield it, protection from ransomware must also be multi-faceted.
So, what happens when ransomware hits an organization? A lot:
- Organizations suffer from crippled productivity.
- Employees are locked out of vital productivity tools like email, calendars and contact lists, as well as other applications and files on affected systems.
- Customers are often impacted because customer-facing operations that are highly dependent on IT are not functional.
- Organizations often succumb to the pressure to pay the ransom to regain access to their applications and data, motivating and financing attackers to expand their ransomware campaigns.
- Data can be lost, damaged or corrupted after an attack, as not all ransomware is bug- free. And, in some cases, the attackers, if not paid in a timely manner, will destroy the decryption keys or some of your data in retribution.
As cybersecurity issues, such as ransomware, continue to be top-of-mind, Mimecast is committed to educating the millions of employees, C-Suite and board members on the impact of not only cyberthreats but also, the fact that employees take an inadvertent active role as a trusted insider to launch an attack against the company.
It takes just half a second to infect a computer with ransomware, but affected companies deal with the fallout for months. The FBI estimates that more than 4,000 ransomware attacks occur each day in the U.S. – representing a 300% increase over 2015 alone. What's more, cybercriminals can get started for just a small investment: Forbes reports that one $39 program encrypts files, deploys from a variety of file formats, and deletes files at random intervals when the ransom isn't paid. Yet the price for companies affected by ransomware is much steeper. In addition to the ransom itself, companies facing ransomware are often unprepared for the true cost of dealing with attackers, getting systems back online and handling potential brand damage and lost productivity.
The Ransom is Expensive – But It's the Least Important Cost
Ransomware is a strain of malware that encrypts data on organizations' computers, servers or user devices, locking them down, before demanding payment of a ransom – often in Bitcoin or another non-traceable currency – in exchange for decrypting the data. According to the FBI, the costs of the ransom plus staff time in recovering the data averages about $330,000 per incident. The ransom itself varies, but is just a fraction of the costs that organizations face. One high-profile case required a Hollywood-based hospital to pay $17,000 to regain access to its data. Yet the financial outlay from paying the actual ransom typically costs far less than collateral damage.
Quantifying the Real Costs of Ransomware Attacks
Employees' productivity declines: Lost employee productivity is a major ransomware cost. When your team is unable to access email, customer information, and other essential systems, they're not able to get their work done and keep your business moving forward. According to the Aberdeen Group, the cost of downtime per hour ranges from $8,581 for small businesses to an astronomical $686,250 for enterprises. An outage of just one day can range between $205,944 and $16,470,000. Email continuity systems can keep your employees connected and working even during an attack.
Customers' access impacted: If locked down systems or encrypted data is linked to the customer experience, the financial damages can be further reaching. From brand damage to the inability to get customers what they need, lack of access to data can bring client-facing operations to a grinding halt. For example, in a healthcare setting clinical staff may be unable to access treatment or prescription data and need to send patients to another facility. Banks may be unable to accept deposits or provide accurate balance information via online banking portals. Customers who find out about ransomware attacks can develop negative brand associations and question both employee judgment and infrastructure security. It's hard to quantify the losses, but stock prices can drop and customers can take their business to the competition.
Potential regulatory and compliance fines: In certain industries, compromised data can be seen a security failing. Each breach or ransomware attack can lead to regulatory fines and penalties, such as in the healthcare industry or in banking. In healthcare, for example, HIPPA-covered organizations can face fines between $10,000 and $25,000 per incident – up to a maximum of $1 million per year. Nominal investments in the right solutions and employee training can help prevent ransomware attacks and recoup the investment many times over.
The cost of recovery and the potential for data damage: Restoring data after a ransomware attack isn't fail-proof or inexpensive. Key files may be deleted or inadvertently damaged during the restoration process. Bugs in the decryption software can lead to data losses. Even if decryption proceeds smoothly, businesses have to invest in IT staff time to get back online. Often a ransomware event also signals a complete forensic analysis of the current setup, network vulnerabilities and investments and strategies to prevent future issues which are time-consuming and potentially expensive.
Your team works hard to attract and serve your customers. Don't let a ransomware attack derail your business and have a negative impact on your bottom line. Mimecast's layered solution brings together email protection, business continuity and data replication capabilities into a single cloud solution that helps you protect against the threat of ransomware.
Contact us today to learn more.
More than 50 new types of malware used in ransomware attacks were released in the first half of 2016 alone. The pace of ransomware attacks is escalating. Nearly 40% of companies have been hit with ransomware attacks this year, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation estimates that the cost per incident is $330,000 when factoring ransomware, downtime, and data recovery. A viable cyber resilience strategy must take a layered approach to combat the realities of a much more complex malware environment.
It's not enough to focus on prevention. As new tools come on the market that allow non-technical criminals to enter the ransomware game for less than $40, businesses need to think about continuity planning before an attack occurs. Companies must think strategically about integrating a layered approach that defends on multiple fronts through targeted threat protection, data archiving and business continuity planning.
Email Ransomware Attack Prevention:
The Wall Street Journal estimates that 99% of ransomware attacks begin with an email. Users download a file or click on a link that infects computers, servers or networks with malware. Data is then locked down or encrypted until a payment is made; then, hopefully, the criminals behind the attack provide an encryption key.
Protecting your email is the frontline defense system against ransomware attacks. Companies can focus on a handful of interrelated solutions to help decrease the chances of emails compromising their system:
- Employ real-time scanning of all emails to help identify phishing and suspicious emails and links from questionable domains across email platforms and devices.
- Intelligent sandboxing solutions scan all attachments before they are delivered to recipients, minimizing the chances of ransomware attacks.
- Dynamic feedback alerts employees to potentially threatening emails, raising awareness and informing better decision-making.
- Email policies, employee training and running tests ensure that team members make smart decisions and complying with company IT procedures.
Ensure Employees Can Continue to Work During an Attack:
When a ransomware attack freezes your network and restricts access to data, productivity grinds to a halt. The losses can be staggering. One report from the Aberdeen Group estimates hourly losses ranging from $8,581 for small businesses to $686,250 for enterprises. Business continuity planning can keep your workers online and connected to email; with the right systems, employees and customers may be unaware that an attack is underway. Email continuity systems provide access to live and archived mail across devices, as well as contacts and calendars. Regular business operations can continue, while your IT team works behind the scenes to solve the problem.
Data Replication Capabilities:
When criminals want to take your data hostage, one of the best strategies you have to defeat them is your data replication strategy. Consider developing an archiving strategy that backs up your data from local drives – as well as third-party providers – in completely separate and unreachable files. Use systems and policies that disconnect backups from the main network after they occur.
Not only does this ensure that your data isn't lost or damaged during a ransomware attack, but it gives your organization a broader range of choices when dealing with the perpetrators.
The statistics for ransomware today can be daunting – and it quickly becomes apparent that no single solution can help companies prevent these malware attacks. However, cyber resilience is built on a layered strategy that prioritizes protecting your email, educating employees, creating viable data replication strategies, and keeping your business online during and after attacks. Mimecast's layered solution brings together email protection, business continuity and data replication capabilities into a single cloud solution that helps you protect against the threat of ransomware.
Contact us today to learn more.
What often impacts more than 100,000 computers a day, and can cost you thousands of dollars in remediation, downtime, and cleanup cost? Ransomware.
In a ransomware attack, you are literally held hostage and denied access to critical productivity tools and data like file servers, email, databases and more.
How’s an organization supposed to cope? Start with protecting the most prevalent ransomware delivery system - your email. Download this infographic to learn about the only cloud solution that combines prevention, business continuity and replication for email in a single solution.
Don’t wait. Protect your organization from ransomware now.