The Ripple Effect of Ransomware Attacks

As we discussed last week, the pandemic was the basis of many scams in 2020, and that trend will most likely continue into 2021. Scammers capitalized on the fears and unknowns tied to the global pandemic by deploying phishing attacks using COVID testing, vaccines, contact tracing, government payments and more as a pretext. The high level of anxiety surrounding the pandemic led people to click more frequently and resulted in more successful attacks.

Successful phishing scams lead to stolen passwords and data, and often, ransomware. According to a report from Lloyd’s of London, the cost of ransom payments doubled year over year in the first half of 2020. As ransomware has become a bigger threat over recent years, more organizations have turned to cyber insurance which means many of these payments were paid by cyber insurance companies. With their payouts skyrocketing, insurance companies are forced to adapt their fees and coverage based on these market changes.

As cyber insurance rates increase, many small businesses that are likely already struggling are letting their coverage lapse, leaving them vulnerable to the ever-increasing likelihood of a ransomware attack. What are the options for smaller organizations that cannot afford pricey insurance? Or what if coverage doesn’t extend to that accidental click on a phishing email?

Organizations must protect themselves through technology and training solutions. Hackers will look for the “low hanging fruit” or, in other words, networks that are not properly protected. Security technology should be deployed and monitored by technology employees. If your network is properly guarded, a hacker will likely go in search of one that’s not. In addition to appropriate technology, every employee with a login should be aware of cyber threats. Employees should understand that they may be targeted through phishing attacks and should know how to recognize and manage these threats. When employees understand their role in protecting the organization’s network, the network becomes exponentially safer.

Ransomware is an ever-present threat to cyber security. If the past year is any indicator, we will see this attack more as the pandemic continues and likely beyond. Even if your organization can afford the rising costs of cyber insurance, the best option is to avoid ransomware altogether by implementing technology solutions and regular training.

If your organization would benefit from security awareness or phishing recognition training, please reach out.

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