It Takes Tech and Humans to Stop Ransomware | #malware | #ransomware

In the next 5 years, 75% of organizations will face attacks from cybercriminals.  Ransomware has increased 400% in the wake of COVID-19.  Increased vulnerabilities created by remote work has made businesses more tempting targets than ever.  The growth of ransomware as a service has made it possible for less than talented hackers to carry out successful cyberattacks. Most importantly, payouts in ransom from businesses tend to be several million dollars.  With such a high return and little chance of interference from law enforcement, cyber criminals are living the dream. Let’s learn how to stop ransomware in its tracks.

Many Companies are Unprepared

Just like businesses were not prepared to deal with coronavirus, many companies lack even a plan of what to do in the case of a ransomware outbreak.  The typical ransomware infection progresses in 3 stages.  First, ransomware encrypts crucial files and denies access to users.  Next, malicious actors demand payments in exchange for decryption keys.  Finally, the beleaguered business pays ransom in an anonymous cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin.  Popular ransomware strains include Ryuk, which has been responsible for a third of all ransomware attacks in 2020, and WannaCry, the scourge of 125,000 companies in 150 countries. 

Why are businesses so unprepared to face a ransomware attack?  The crux of the issue is money.  The shortage of qualified cybersecurity experts makes hiring and retaining talent increasingly difficult and expensive, especially for smaller businesses.  62% of small and medium businesses lack in-house cybersecurity expertise.  Given that the average annual salary for a cybersecurity engineer is almost $95,000 dollars and the majority of businesses spend less than $10,000 a year on IT security, the mismatch is clear.  

Businesses tempted to shortchange their cybersecurity should be aware of the cost.  In 2021, the average recovery cost per business reached nearly $2 million in 2021.  A successful ransomware attack costs far more than hiring a security expert does.  Again: ransomware attacks are growing more common by the day. 

What About Security Software?

Can technology close the gap between businesses able to afford a cybersecurity expert and those who can’t?  Not entirely.  While such artificial intelligence works wonders, it also introduces new challenges.  AI solutions aren’t full proof, and an over-reliance on software to determine security threats can cause an explosion of false positives and excessive alerts.  Employees learn to ignore security warnings at their own peril.  Sorting through these alerts takes a great deal of time, seeing as the average person receives 63.5 notifications every day.  Employees should do the job they were hired to do for the company.  Expecting cybersecurity novices to navigate these dangerous waters is a recipe for disaster.

In Conclusion

A skilled human should work alongside software to provide the best protection.  An expert can weed out false positives from alerts in a way untrained humans can’t.  They can also understand context, relevance, and motivation in a way AI is not yet equipped to handle.   Human expertise is an important part of cybersecurity that can’t be worked around.  Not if a business wants to stay safe from ransomware, that is. Learn more about how to stop ransomware in the infographic below:

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