July 15, 2021

Ransomware on the Rise: Who’s at Risk and How You Can Prepare


The recent proliferation of high-profile ransomware attacks proves that threat actors are not slowing down, and they don’t care who they attack in the search of a big pay day. It’s more important than ever that companies, large or small, are prepared to handle a cyber-attack, in the event their data is encrypted with ransomware. It’s also important to understand who might be more at risk, and the tools you should have in place to understand the severity of an attack, based on the data that was affected.

The Remote Workforce Risk

We’re all familiar with the massive work from home shift that took place at the beginning of the pandemic last year—many companies went 100 percent remote in a matter of days. But, whenever you introduce a larger remote workforce, the risk of a ransomware incident rises. This rushed transition caused many incomplete security processes and unsecure networks. The problem is, with a large remote workforce, the attack surface increases: Employees are logging on from their homes using their laptops, personal desktops, and cell phones on unsecured VPN networks, rather than directly connecting in the office.

Security is then reliant on users and the end point to prevent ransomware and other breaches from occurring, which is challenging. And the reality is that most employees don’t realize how important they are in preventing security incidents, or they don’t care about using security protocols if doing so affects their ability to do their jobs. In fact, many companies are infected when an unsuspecting employee clicks on a phishing hyperlink.

Ransomware attacks seem to be happening at alarming rates right now because there are so many ways threat actors can gain access to corporate networks by any number of devices. There are also some attack groups that target exposed servers and place ransomware in them without ever being detected. This can happen over many months, without the organization ever knowing it’s there. And when they do find out, it’s too late: Their data has been exfiltrated and encrypted.

Who is More Susceptible to Attacks?

We’ve seen certain industries that have been hit particularly hard by ransomware attacks, such as healthcare organizations, and mostly recently, critical infrastructure. So, do hackers target specific industries based on the payout they could get and how desperate the company could be to restore operations?

It all depends on the threat group, their experience, and how big of a target they want. If the group is well-established, they could go for a more monumental incident, like infecting credit unions and banks with ransomware. With this kind of risk, the feds would be directly involved in an attack, and threat actors are aware of ransomware insurance policies. The groups typically going after the largest targets are nation-state attacks, while lone wolf hackers or small groups will go after small- to medium-sized companies.

Overall, it’s really all about the kind of data companies have; consumer information, as well as financial information, is a gold mine. But, any organization that has a decent amount of revenue and can pay a hacker is at a high risk. Sometimes threat actors/groups will target less regulated government providers, television providers, or retail chains because they know companies will likely pay up if consumer data is involved.

Know Where Your Data Is

If a company is hit with ransomware, one of the critical things the security experts need is knowledge of where all the data is, so they can better understand the severity of the attack, and exactly what data—sensitive or otherwise—is being held ransom. This could be on the cloud, on-premises, individual desktops, or even data that was shared between employees and partners.

As long as you have backup systems in place that are not affected, know where all your data resides, and leverage encryption tools to protect data at rest, you should be able to recover without having to pay the ransom. Recent high-profile attacks show that ransomware threat actors are not going anywhere, and all companies, large and small, need to be as prepared as possible by putting the proper security measures in place.

PKWARE’s full PK Protect suite—which includes vital security applications such as PK Discovery and PK Encryption—can help organizations know where all their data resides and create end-to-end security for it. PK Protect can find information stored on file servers, big data repositories, databases, endpoint devices, and across the enterprise, along with automatically encrypting data at rest and in motion.

Be confident about your data security and protection, even in the face of rising ransomware attacks. Request your free personalized demo of PK Protect now.  

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