Backing Up The Fight Against Ransomware
By: Jim Stickley and Tina Davis
June 5, 2020
Organizations are facing drastic increases in ransomware attacks. A report by Malwarebytes finds a 90% increase in such attacks since 2016–that’s almost ten times the amount of attacks since 2016. Many of these attacks are aimed at businesses, but this report also shows a 12% increase for consumers as well. Ransomware is very difficult to fight, as data is encrypted and locked by hackers, who then demand a ransom to restore the data. The increased ransomware attacks show one thing for sure– ransomware attacks are highly effective and profitable for hackers. Victims are also faced with the decision to pay the ransom or not. And should the ransom be paid, there’s no guarantee hackers won’t up the ransom amount.
The overwhelming majority of ransomware is aimed at hospitals, law enforcement, local government services, and others. In fact, pretty much any type of organization is at risk. However, the list of majority targets includes victims who depend on access to critical data often on a second-by-second basis. Any hold on that data could mean lives are literally at stake. As a result, more organizations are starting to understand the need to backup data as a vital part to avoid becoming a victim. Having data backed-up gives hackers much less leverage for ransom demands. Regularly backing up data is a huge part of having a business continuity plan in the face of attack. Every organization should have the ability to restore data quickly and with no need to pay a ransom. Being prepared doesn’t only save lives, but it also saves money. Research by Cybersecurity Ventures shows that by 2019, ransomware will attack a business every 14 seconds, and by the end of 2018, the global cost of those attacks will reach $8 billion.
How often should you backup your data? Well, that depends on what the data includes and how it’s used. Daily might be OK; even weekly for some. However, in a life or death environment, that frequency may need to be increased substantially.
Statistics alone should motivate more businesses to back up their data. They also find themselves considering the cost of doing those backups–including data storage fees. To save resources, many cherry-pick files to backup and end up leaving out other important files and/or don’t do backups often enough.
Testing backup systems is also important because if they don’t work when they’re needed, they’re worthless. Also, backups shouldn’t be put on network drives since ransomware hackers can easily find and encrypt the backups as well. Be sure to segregate those from the other network segments.
Although variables for data backups may be many, cybersecurity professionals agree, backing up data is currently the most effective way to fight back against ransomware.