What is ransomware?
Ransomware is the name given to malware that hackers use to lock their victims’ computers or encrypt the files saved on them. This allows cybercriminals to extort money from private individuals and companies, as the systems or files remain encrypted and inaccessible to the victim until the ransom has been paid – usually in a cryptocurrency. A window appears on the affected user’s locked computer screen with a demand to pay a ransom. Ransomware, like other forms of malware, often finds its way onto computers via emails. The emails either have an attachment that contains a virus or a link to a manipulated website.
What happens when a ransomware attack is successful?
Most hackers use encryption algorithms that are impossible to decipher without the right key. Blocked digital systems make it impossible for companies to continue working, and lost data can cause huge reputational damage. This means that more and more companies are prepared to pay the ransom fee. However, there is no guarantee that the files or computers will be decrypted. Many cybercriminals don’t even consider decrypting the files and permanently delete them after they have received the ransom payment. Ransom payments also make this type of crime much more lucrative and attractive for criminals. An IT security concept is therefore essential even for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), as it is the only way to ensure that files can still be accessed following a ransomware attack. Cyber insurance offers companies additional support from a team of experts in various areas.
What options are available to protect against ransomware attacks?
It is essential to ensure that all IT systems are constantly updated to prevent hackers from exploiting security vulnerabilities. The effects of a ransomware attack can only be reduced by effective file backups. To ensure that backup copies can be used following an attack, the following measures are essential:
- Make sure that file backups are created regularly and automatically.
- Store backups securely – this means ensuring that the ransomware cannot infiltrate and encrypt the drives the backups are stored on.
- Test the backup and restore functions regularly.
What makes ransomware attacks so dangerous?
In our interconnected world, digitalisation is essential – we need to be able to access our data at any time, wherever we are. Expertise and business information are saved in digital form, which enables simpler and more efficient work processes within a company. It is this dependence, however, that makes us vulnerable to ransomware attacks. Being unable to access data can lead to business interruptions or manufacturing stops for companies. This is because they are suddenly faced with the challenge of restarting all client computers and company servers, or even entire production lines, and reinstalling all of the software programs.