Cybersecurity is one of the most important issues facing businesses in the 21st century.
After all, just about every aspect of our lives is connected to the internet in some way, and that means there are more opportunities than ever for criminals to exploit our data.
One of the most prevalent exploits that cybercriminals seem to be opting for in recent years is ransomware, and the frequency of these attacks is starting to reach epidemic proportions.
A new report from the US federal government found that American banks processed more than $1.2 billion in ransom payments in 2021. This marks a new record for such payments and is triple the amount processed in the previous year ($416 million).
In response to this threat, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency unveiled the Reduce the Risk of Ransomware Campaign, although it seems that it has done little to hamper cyber criminals so far.
With this in mind, it’s likely that demand for cybersecurity service providers will continue to grow as businesses look for ways to protect themselves from these sinister digital threats.
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What is ransomware?
Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts a victim’s files and demands a ransom payment in order to decrypt them. In some cases, the attackers may threaten to release the victim’s confidential data publicly if the ransom is not paid, or they may delete it entirely.
Ransomware attacks can be devastating for businesses, as they can lead to significant financial losses and downtime.
According to an IBM study, the average cost of a ransomware attack (against businesses) is $4.54 million ($5.12 million when data is destroyed).
Not only that, but the study found that ransomware attacks are becoming increasingly difficult to identify, with breaches in 2021 taking 49 days longer than average to identify and contain.
Part of their nefariousness is due to the fact that ransomware is often delivered via email phishing attacks, which can be difficult to spot.
If left unchecked, these infiltration points can provide attackers with a gateway into an organization’s network, where they can then spread the malware to other machines.
While some ransom payments may be covered by insurance, this is not always the case. And even if businesses are able to recover their data, the process can be time-consuming and costly.
On top of this, companies may face severe legal ramifications and reputational damage if sensitive data is leaked as a result of an attack.
For all these reasons, it is clear security service providers need to be on the lookout for ransomware attacks and have a plan in place to deal with them. On that note, here are four tips on how best to prepare for and respond to these digital threats.
Provide vCISO services
For most SMBs and some of the SMEs, hiring a full-time on-site CISO (chief information security officer) is simply not an option. After all, the average salary for a CISO in the US is $971,000, once you take things like bonuses and company equity into account.
This means that more and more businesses are looking for vCISO services instead of a full-time CISO.
As a solution provider, you can offer vCISO services without increasing your team or investing additional resources, by using vCISO platforms such as Cynomi, which automate the vCISO assessments and tasks.
Using vCISO services enables companies to assess their current security posture and gaps, compliance readiness, identify vulnerabilities, and implement the necessary controls to protect their business from ransomware and other cyber threats.
vCISO services can also help businesses create a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy, which should include measures such as data backups, disaster recovery plans, and malware detection/prevention.
Prioritize education and training
As a service provider, you need to emphasize the vital role that education and training play in protecting businesses from ransomware attacks. After all, these attacks often exploit human error, such as employees clicking on malicious links in phishing emails.
You should provide comprehensive training for your clients’ employees on how to spot and report phishing attempts, as well as best practices for data security. This will go a long way in reducing the likelihood of successful attacks.
It’s also a good idea to conduct regular training where possible since the methods used by cybercriminals are constantly evolving.
For example, drive-by downloads have become a popular method for delivering ransomware, as attackers can exploit vulnerabilities in website code to silently install the malware on visitors’ machines.
The more employees know about the types of threats they may face and how to protect themselves (and their company), the better equipped they will be to deal with an attack.
Minimize the attack surface
As a service provider, you should also help your clients to minimize their attack surface. This means identifying and removing any unnecessary applications and access points that could provide attackers with a way into the network.
Ideally, you should strive to attain full visibility of your entire external attack surface at all times. That way you can prioritize risks on specific assets and facilitate remediation.
You should also encourage your clients to encrypt their data as a last line of defense against ransomware. That way, even if attackers are able to gain access to sensitive data, they will not be able to read it without the encryption key.
While this is not an ideal solution, it at least prevents organizations from suffering from ‘double extortion’ ransomware attacks, where attackers threaten to leak the stolen data unless a ransom is paid (rather than just blocking access).
Ransomware is a serious threat to businesses of all sizes, and it is only becoming more prevalent. As a service provider, you need to do everything you can to help your clients prepare for and respond to these digital threats, especially given how damaging they can be.
In order for SMBs and SMEs to protect their business, it’s likely that they are going to turn to vCISO service providers.
This is an opportunity for security service providers to scale operations and increase revenue as you can use vCISO platforms to automate assessments and tasks, making it an efficient way to deliver these services.
In addition to leveraging vCISO platforms, service providers should also prioritize education and training, minimize the attack surface, and consider encryption as a last line of defense.
By taking these steps, you can help your clients prepare for and respond to ransomware attacks, minimizing the impact on their business.