Sydney Outsourced IT Services Blog
STS Helps Sydney Businesses Recover And Prevent Ransomware Attacks
According to the 2019 Small Busines Counts by the Australia Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, there are over 2,259,098 small businesses all over Australia. This number constitutes over 97.7% of all businesses in the country. The small business industry employs around 2.2 million people. This means medium to large-sized businesses comprise only 2.4% of the total number of businesses.
If you are a person who targets businesses, it is sound judgement to focus on the smaller businesses instead of the big ones. After all, multiple small wins trump a rare Moby Dick takedown moment, right?
This is currently the mindset of cybercriminals from all over the world. The target was always the big guys. But what changed? Why should small businesses worry about ransomware today and how can you protect yourself from an attack?
Modern Business and Its Reliance on Data
At its core, businesses haven’t changed that much. The goals have always been the same and how businesses do their thing may have adapted to a more modern world but things are pretty much static in that department.
But if there was any big change in the world of business in the past 20 years then it would be its reliance on data. Sure, we’ve always considered our customer and business records to be important but now that we have ways to gather and record more than just names and addresses, businesses have relied on data for operation, growth, and decision-making.
Thing is, there’s no downside to gathering data. Sure, it might mean getting new tools, training employees (and yourself), or getting additional manpower at times but if you do it right it becomes well worth it. Here are some of the ways businesses can use data:
- To find new customers
- Improve customer retention
- Provide better customer service
- Plan out marketing efforts
- Tracking marketing results
- Predicting sales trends
What is Ransomware?
As the name suggests, a ransomware attack is a kind of cyber attack where criminal elements take your data hostage in exchange for a hefty sum for ransom.
Most of the time, a ransomware attack involves criminals using malware to infiltrate a network to look for important data. As soon as the data is located, they are then encrypted. The only way to decrypt the data is through a special key that the infiltrators keep. To get the key, you need to pay a specific amount of money usually through Bitcoin to an address. As soon as you send the payment in, the key will be provided and you will have your files decrypted.
How Does Ransomware Affect Small Businesses?
Depending on the attack, small businesses might need to pay anywhere from a couple of tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars. A small business even went as far as to pay $150,000 after getting hit by a ransomware attack. This business had 8 computers on their network but they were still a target. What’s worth discussing is the fact that they believe their data is worth more than the $150,000 they paid the attackers. The CFO claimed that the original ransom was for $400,000 but they managed to negotiate it down to $150,000 because it was all they had.
Now ask yourself, do you have $150,000 to get control back of your devices and your data? This is the problem that small businesses face. Unlike large businesses that can pay the ransom even if it reaches millions, small businesses simply can’t afford to pay the ransom. When they do, this often results in exorbitant loans.
So if you are a small business that got hit by a ransomware account your choices include:
- Paying for the ransom by taking out huge loans that you may or may not be able to pay for.
- Ignore the ransom note and just start back from scratch.
- Close up shop.
Looking at the choices, it does seem grim. 60% of small businesses that get hit by a cyberattack close down within 6 months of an attack. That is why the best solution for a ransomware attack is prevention.
How Can Small Businesses Stop Being Targets?
To create a comprehensive plan against ransomware attacks, you have to first understand the motivations why criminals tend to target small businesses.
First off, small businesses have little to no defences in place due to budget constraints or having different priorities. They can’t monitor their network 24/7 and they often lack the tools to properly combat an attack. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel. Employees of smaller businesses also lack the proper education on how to deal with various elements online that result in an attack.
So what can you do? Well, you can start by setting up defences for your network. To do this, you need an IT team. If this is not an option for you due to financial reasons, there are still other choices for you. For example, instead of getting a whole internal IT team, you can partner up with a Managed Services Provider who can give you all the benefits of your very own IT team minus the hefty price tag.
With a good IT partner, they can evaluate your network and your needs to provide you with a custom security solution to prevent future attacks. Most MSPs offer network monitoring and basic anti-malware defence for every workstation. They can also recommend tools and applications that reduce the risk of getting attacked by screening emails and attachments and removing potentially harmful ones.
A good MSP can also prepare an employee education program where they can give your employees a list of the best practices that will help lessen your chances of getting attacked. After all, the majority of ransomware attacks start from employees opening phishing emails or downloading malicious attachments.
If you are a small business in Sydney that’s looking for an IT support company that can help secure your organization from a ransomware attack then Sydney Technology Solutions is your best bet. STS is the #1 rated Sydney IT support company with over 21 years of experience in the industry. Give STS a call today and ask how we can help keep your business secure from all types of cyberattacks.