Nov 9, 2023
It’s fitting that at the very start of Cybersecurity Awareness Month, the FBI should issue a stark warning to businesses big and small. That ransomware attacks are on the rise is nothing new. We’ve already covered that extensively.
But have you heard of dual ransomware attacks? This new ransomware threat poses a significant obstacle for businesses and has the potential to send them into crippling, unending financial loss. So far, instances of dual ransomware attacks remain low, but now is the perfect time to get ahead of the curve.
Learn more about this frightening new type of attack from ransomware groups and what you can do to protect your business in our dual ransomware attack preparation guide.
What is Ransomware?
Chances are you’ve probably heard this term being thrown around a lot in the news lately. This cyberattack is fast becoming a lucrative cottage industry for ransomware gangs and digital threat actors. It has hit big and small businesses and impacted almost every industry, from health care and education to manufacturing and municipal governments.
A ransomware incident occurs when a non-authorized user gains access to a compromised system. They then install software that encrypts your business’ key files. They may also steal sensitive data at the same time. Once your data is encrypted, the hacker will make contact and demand ransom payments to remove the encryption on your files, usually in Bitcoin or another untraceable cryptocurrency.
The problem is that even if you pay the ransom, cybercriminals are not guaranteed to release your data. You’re more likely to wind up with severe data loss and sensitive information from your business sold on the dark web.
For businesses lacking data backups and heavily dependent on essential systems, especially those containing private customer data, paying the ransom can seem like a necessary risk. This scenario typically leads to dual ransomware attacks.
What is a Dual Ransomware Attack?
A dual ransomware attack is when a business receives multiple ransomware attacks quickly. The FBI has found that ransomware groups may attempt to employ a different encryption software or attack method to hide that the attacks are coming from the same group.
These attacks typically happen to businesses that choose to pay the ransom. Once cybercriminals know they have a victim who will cough up money, they attack them repeatedly to get further payments.
Dual ransomware attacks tend to close together to prevent the recently victimized businesses from strengthening their security and patching vulnerabilities. The worst part is that once you make a ransom payment, you put a target on your business to be hit again and again with ransomware attacks.
How Do Ransomware Attacks Occur?
If you’re worried ransomware will leap onto your critical business systems one day, you can breathe a (small) sigh of relief. For the attack to succeed, hackers need access to a compromised system. The most common way of doing this is through what’s called a phishing attack.
Phishing attacks often take the form of emails or text messages. These messages appear to come from an organization or person you know. In reality, it’s the hacker pretending to be these people, hoping you click on any attachments or links so they can upload a virus to your device.
Another method is called Pharming. We covered this extensively in one of our separate guides. Pharming involves being redirected to a fraudulent website to collect sensitive information like login credentials. Hackers use this info to give themselves a backdoor into your system and install the ransomware themselves.
There is, of course, one final way that cyber criminals can create compromised systems to infiltrate that doesn’t require an employee to fall victim to a scam: Zero-day attacks. As we discussed in one of our other guides, zero-day attacks occur when hackers exploit vulnerabilities in the software itself that security researchers or distributors don’t yet know about.
These attacks can be some of the most devastating because it’s tough to prepare for them. After all, you can’t patch a vulnerability you don’t know about.
How Can You Prevent Dual Ransomware Attacks
The best thing your company can do to prevent or prepare for any ransomware attack is to have a recovery plan. If your business is hit by a ransomware attack, following the steps outlined in your cybersecurity plan should help you mitigate potential risks and losses your organization may experience.
However, you can take plenty of other measures to prevent or significantly reduce the damage from dual ransomware attacks.
Don’t Pay the Ransom
We’ll start with the most straightforward method of preventing dual ransomware attacks. If you get locked out of your systems, and a ransomware gang asks you for money, ignore them. Ignorance is more difficult for some businesses that host a lot of sensitive customer information that puts their clients at risk. But generally speaking, paying a ransom is always a bad idea.
First, there’s no guarantee that the criminals will unencrypt your files to allow you access to your system. Second, even if they unencrypt your files, they may still sell data they stole from your company on the dark web. Lastly, the second you make that ransom payment, you’ve just become that ransomware gang’s new golden goose. If they know they can get money out of you, they’re far more likely to victimize you again.
A temporary halt to business operations or destroyed data is much preferable to being targeted by cyberattacks repeatedly.
Have Data Backups
Your company should always be backing up data. Regularly backing up critical files and data is crucial to avoid halts in business operations from equipment failure and cyberattacks.
But where ransomware attacks are concerned, they give you an extra edge. If cyberthieves encrypt your files, you can restore everything from your data backups and continue as usual.
Ransomware groups count on businesses having only one copy of crucial data they can hold hostage. If multiple copies exist, they lose their leverage over you, and you become a less appealing target in the future.
Provide Cybersecurity Training to Employees
Your employees are your first line of defense against cyber incursions. Most ransomware attacks succeed because an employee fell for a phishing or pharming scam. With the advent of deep fakes and tools like ChatGPT, hackers can create scam emails and websites that are harder and harder to tell apart from the real deal.
Taking the time to educate your employees on the latest threats, how to spot them, and your company policies could be the difference between a hacker getting a foothold in your system or seeking easier prey elsewhere.
Keep All Software Updated
Outdated software is an invitation for cyber thieves to invade your system. Always make sure you keep your software and hardware up-to-date. Regularly search for and install security patches whenever they become available.
Even more important, keep an eye out for what’s going on in the industry. Zero-day attacks come as a surprise, but when they happen, the cybersecurity industry usually kicks into overdrive to quickly plug the gaps in software. If you see something in the news indicating a tool you regularly use just got hit with a zero-day attack, see if you can temporarily forgo using that software or tool until a patch comes out.
Partner with Blade Technologies
If you’ve done everything we’ve mentioned above, fantastic! You are significantly more prepared than other organizations to weather a ransomware attack. However, with how common attacks are growing, you can still do much more to prevent yourself from becoming a victim.
Blade Technologies, your premier St. Louis IT and cybersecurity firm, has the cybersecurity tools to help keep your systems locked down.
We offer cybersecurity assessments to pinpoint weaknesses in your security and methods to shore them up. Blade’s active monitoring services constantly monitor your systems and alert you when any strange activity is detected to stop cyberattacks in their tracks. To top it all off, we offer cybersecurity training for your employees’ breach remediation services. We can even help you apply for cybersecurity insurance.
When you partner with Blade, you aren’t just able to prevent dual ransomware attacks; you’re prepared to halt ALL ransomware attacks.
Ready for some peace of mind? Contact our cybersecurity experts today, and let’s protect your business together!
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