The Growing Threat: Ransomware Holds Your Business Hostage

Ransomware is malware that infects computers and encrypts its files. The only way to get access to those files again is by paying a ransom to the hacker holding your files hostage. Hackers want fast cash so they charge exorbitant fees for the return of your information and in some cases never return them at all. With the pure goal of extorting money from you, some criminals even try to charge you more after receiving the first payment.

When your files get infected it doesn’t matter where or how it happened, by an email attachment or opening a webpage, you lose all control in what happens to your data.

Although cyberattacks aren’t a new phenomenon, ransomware incidents have been rapidly piling up in the United States over the last few years. To put it into perspective, the FBI reported 2,453 complaints about ransomware hold-ups last year, which cost the victims more than $24 million.

Prevent or Pay Up

When it comes to a virtual disaster like ransomware, you have two choices: be prepared for an attack or be prepared to pay up. Hackers target vulnerable systems, individuals, and organizations that aren’t protected with the right security. Companies that do not back up their essential data are the most at risk because they literally have no other choice but to roll the dice and pay.

There are cases all over the United States of hospitals and schools who have been the latest victims of these malicious software attacks. Even NASCAR has been a target recently. A professional NASCAR racing team, Circle Sport-Leavine Racing, had its computer files hacked just before a race in Texas this past April. A ransomware attack locked down critical race data including wind tunnel spreadsheets, simulations, track data, test facility data, and car parts – an estimated value of $2 million. In this situation, the team couldn’t go a full day without access to that data, as it would have impacted the race and the team’s success. They were forced to pay the hackers $500 in bitcoin technology and a few hours later got access to the files.

Although that amount doesn’t seem like much, the financial impact goes far beyond the ransom fee itself – which is estimated to be between $200 and $10,000. Many victims incur additional costs associated with disruption of regular business hours, loss of critical information, network mitigation, and all other financial losses that come with restoring their systems and files.

Can you Prevent a Ransomware Attack?

There’s actually no way to stop an attack from happening. Ransomware is sophisticated and continuously evolving, replicating police warnings and circulating through friends. However, if you have your data backed up properly and regularly, you don’t have to worry about ever being put in this situation. If you have your data backed up on a separate network, ransomware hackers have no leverage because you can simply restore your own version of the files and ignore their demands.

Ideally you want to avoid making the decision of having to pay the ransom to a hacker or not. There is no official guarantee you will actually get your files back and if you do nothing then you’re essentially shutting your doors. The only way to escape the potentially devastating impact a virtual attack would have on your business is to store and back up your files on another network.

A lot of businesses are resistant to taking preventative measures from a disaster. In most cases, they try to weight the costs of downtime with the probability of an incident occurring and usually end up waiting. Unfortunately, it is these businesses that are stuck in these stressful situations, paying those hefty ransom amounts. Luckily, this kind of threat is surprisingly simple to prepare for.

Here are 4 tips on what you can do to protect your data in case of a ransomware attack.

  1. Test Your Backup Health
    You put a lot of pressure on your backups to be there for you in the event you lose some or all of your data, but can they be trusted? Take our 30 Second Backup Health Quiz to find out what your current state is.
  2. Follow the 3-2-1 Backup Rule
    How and where you store backup up data is important. Plan to keep 3 copies of your data: 2 in different formats with at least one copy off-site.
  3. Store a copy in the cloud
    Cloud services are secure and make the process of frequent back-ups easier by allowing automation and offsite storage to occur with minimal intervention. Keep reading for further recommendations.
  4. Train your staff on recognizing threats
    Email is the most common route to infection. Most people know not to open or download an attachment from strangers but the latest attacks are coming from people on your contact list. There is also something called “Malvertising” which works through digital ads.

You can also read this whitepaper for tips on how to prepare. Read 7 Critical Ways to Protect Your Business from Data (and Financial) Loss here.

Protect Your ERP/Accounting Data with Azure Backup

There are plenty of cloud options to choose from but at Rand Group, all of our cloud-based services operate exclusively on Microsoft Azure Cloud. Microsoft has an Enterprise Security Team that has helped numerous enterprise customers protect, detect, and respond to some of the most sophisticated ransomware attacks to date. We trust this solution with our own data, so you know it is secure and reputable.

Azure Backup is a simple, cost-effective backup as a service solution. With more than 30 certifications and compliance requirements in countries around the world, Microsoft is constantly investing in the cloud and making it better. There are two cloud offerings available, one focused on backup and one focused on full disaster recovery. Learn how Azure Backup can work in your environment. 

Rand Group can assist in evaluating your existing requirements and, leveraging Microsoft Azure Backup and Site Recovery solutions, architect and implement a backup/disaster recovery plan for your organization. Our team of technology experts can help you define your areas of weakness and better protect your business.

An Azure Backup and Disaster Recovery solution from Rand Group will help:
• Protect your data, on-premise or in the cloud, with one unified system
• Automate incremental backups
• Geo-replicate backup storage maintaining 6 copies of your data across 2 disparate Azure data centers (with 99.9% service availability)
• Save money by only paying what you need
• Continuous health monitoring and replication

Having a backup plan is the key to protecting your most valuable data from hackers and ransomware attacks. We can help you get a benchmark and determine your level of risk, then work with you to ensure you are protected now and in the future. If you have any comments or questions about security and data protection, please reach out to us in the comment section below or contact us. Your business is worth it.


– Software Delivered as Promised. No Surprises.

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Lorenzo Fife

Insight written by Lorenzo Fife

Director, Infrastructure Services at Rand Group

Lorenzo Fife has over 12 years’ experience helping organizations plan and manage their technology platforms to leverage them for success. He has helped several organizations grow exponentially through the application of better IT strategies, infrastructure planning, and performance optimization. He has also enabled companies to significantly reduce overall IT expenditures while improving management, end-user, and client side satisfaction.

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