We're a bit more than halfway through the year, and 2021 has already seen several devastating cyberattacks on giants like Colonial Pipeline and JBS. The pandemic has seen a massive swell in ransomware attacks, prompting the White House to issue a serious warning to business owners - beef up your cybersecurity infrastructure because cyberattacks are on the rise.

The open letter addressed to the country's business owners urges them to take immediate steps to prepare for ransomware attacks, bringing operations to a standstill for days, weeks, or months. Ransomware attacks have drastically risen by nearly 500% since the dawn of the COVID-19 pandemic, a statistic that should disturb business owners everywhere.

What is ransomware and why are ransomware attacks such a significant threat?

Ransomware is one of the most popular forms of cybercrime, used as an attack on a business's digital infrastructure and private data. Ransomware captures company networks and data and holds it ransom, demanding large sums (often in cryptocurrency) of money in exchange for the organization's property. Ransomware attacks, which have drastically increased over the last few years, can drag on for long periods of time and often pay off for attackers - the average payoff for a ransomware attack is over $200,000. Some of the largest ransomware attacks in history have seen upwards of $4.5 million paid out to cybercriminals.

Ransomware attacks are such a significant threat to your business because of how damaging they can be. These attacks leave your business exposed and without fundamental systems and data, leaving you and your team with little to nothing in the way of business continuity until the attackers are paid. These attacks often come in the form of simple phishing emails, which just about everybody is immune to. It's not just large industrial companies that are affected by ransomware attacks, either. Small businesses are the target of around 71% of all ransomware attacks, meaning absolutely no business is safe from the threat of devastating cyberattacks.

How your business can protect itself from the threat of ransomware attacks

Thankfully, businesses aren't powerless. By taking proactive measures, you can drastically reduce the threat of ransomware attacks and protect your organization's network and its data. The memo published by the White House outlines some ways businesses can protect themselves from ransomware. To keep ransomware threats at bay, the memo strongly suggests that companies should regularly backup all data, systems, and configurations. These backups should always be kept offline to keep them away from cybercriminals. This way, if an attack happens, your business can resume operations with fewer hiccups and rather than be forced to pay the attackers.

Businesses also need to make a point of keeping systems properly updated and patched at all times. The moment something new is released or patched for a system, app or tool your company is actively using, it should be updated immediately - waiting even a day or two should be considered unacceptable and could leave you open to an attack. It's a good idea to create and test an incident response plan regularly, as it can be a major indication of how significantly an attack would impact your business.

From there, hire a third-party contractor to ensure that your security team is doing its work properly and will be able to defend from an attack. Segment organizational networks to ensure that your business can continue to operate even if one of the segmented networks is breached or compromised. Following these basic practices can safeguard your company's systems and data from ransomware attacks, ensuring that you and your team can continue operating even in the midst of an attack or avoid attacks altogether.

The message from the White House reads loud and clear - businesses need to protect themselves from the growing threat of ransomware attacks. Failure to do so can be catastrophic to businesses of all sectors and sizes, jeopardizing their reputation, financial standing, and its very future. By taking basic proactive steps to assess your current cybersecurity infrastructure and taking measures to protect your data and systems, your business can avoid becoming another statistic or a tragic case study.

Not sure where to start? The team at UpCurve Cloud stands ready to help businesses of all shapes and sizes assess security needs and implement measures that will keep your systems and sensitive data far away from cybercriminals.

Our experienced team of Google certified security engineers will meet with you to evaluate everything from your Google Workspace admin controls to your points of access and company domain settings. After you receive your cybersecurity audit, you'll have a roadmap to keeping your company protected from ransomware attacks, with members of our team working with you to create a game plan that'll see the implementation of industry-leading security solutions you can count on.

For more information on how the cybersecurity experts at UpCurve Cloud can keep your business safe from ransomware attacks, get in touch with us today.

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