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The Triumph of Ransomware: How to Avoid Becoming a Hostage in 2024

Ransomware has broken records this year, with anyone a target. Learn how to protect from treacherous cyberattacks

Ransomware has proven to be one of a business’s worst nightmares. It’s particularly menacing for small organizations and startups, which often lack the resources to bolster their cybersecurity.

While smaller companies may not attract the same level of public attention, big companies are known for not being immune to ransomware threats. In fact, they often make significant cybersecurity mistakes, leading to devastating consequences. Despite the increased media coverage of these attacks, the threat continues to rise.

High Profile Ransomware Attacks in the US in 2023 & 2024 Forecasts

In 2023, the US experienced a 73% increase in ransomware attacks. Here are some of the most high-profile attacks:

Ransomware Attack
Damages
Case Status
MGM Resorts Attack
Over $100 million in losses
Unsolved. Suspected hacker groups ALPHV and Scattered Spider
Henry Schein Attack
Theft of 35 TB of data, over $150 million in losses
Unsolved. Suspected cybercriminal group ALPHV/Back Cat
Prospect Medical Holdings Attack
Over 500,000 patients had their social security numbers, passport information, and health data leaked on the dark web
Unsolved. Cybercriminal group Rhysida
Dish Network Attack
The ransom is suspected to have been paid. The company spent $30 million following the attack to boost its cybersecurity.
Unsolved. No cybercrime group claimed the attack.

However, 2024 has it worse. Ransomware attacks in 2024 were more prevalent in the first Q1 compared to the previous year. It reached an all-time high, but according to the experts, it may become a concerning trend in the years ahead.

Factors Fueling the Rise of Ransomware

Since the first quarter of 2024 already set a new record for ransomware activity, it’s only natural to ask what fueled it. In most instances, the same issues were present in 2023. Here are some factors that contribute to the rise of ransomware attacks:

AI Development

AI advancements are like a double-edged sword. On one end, cybercriminals can use AI to streamline their ransomware operations. On the other end, cybersecurity experts use it to counter their actions, and whoever gets hold of the technology wins the competition.

The Rise of Remote Work

According to the US Career Institute, 26% of households have at least one person working remotely. Remote work has increased, especially since COVID-19 and the numbers aren’t slowing down. Employees access sensitive data from various devices and locations, which increases companies’ vulnerability to ransomware attacks.

Cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrencies’ anonymity, popularity, and global nature have contributed to successful ransomware attacks. Crypto operations are challenging to trace, making it a preferred payment method for cybercriminals and cybercrime groups.

Lack of Security Training in Companies

Businesses of all levels are not paying enough attention to cybersecurity training for their employees. This largely contributes to workers’ vulnerability to social engineering tactics and ransomware in particular.

Minimizing the Risk of Ransomware for Your Business

Whether a company is a startup or an established enterprise, there are several ways to minimize the risk of ransomware. Here are some tips to consider in 2024:

  • Implement a Robust Backup and Recovery Strategy
    A company should regularly backup and encrypt critical data and systems. This way, even if your company suffers a cybersecurity breach, it will be easier to mitigate the after-effects. If you maintain access to crucial information, a cyberattack might only cause operation disruptions instead of permanent damages.
  • Provide Cybersecurity Training to Workers
    Most of the time, the human factor is the weakest link in a company’s cybersecurity structure. Employees must learn to identify threats, including phishing attempts, ransomware, and other social engineering techniques. If a cyberattack does occur, your employees might learn how to act to mitigate the damages, preventing further harm to company data.
  • Adopt a Reliable Network Security Service
    Network security service providers can offer a comprehensive suite of security solutions, such as intrusion detection and prevention systems, firewalls, or advanced threat monitoring. Find a reputable network security provider to protect your business in the increasingly unsafe digital world.
  • Keep Software and Systems Up-to-Date
    Cybercriminals commonly begin their attack by assessing vulnerabilities. Security vulnerabilities are often present in old software or systems that haven’t been updated. Because of this, companies should always keep their operating systems and applications up-to-date. Updates come with the latest security patches that address known vulnerabilities.
  • Use a Virtual Private Network
    You can boost your online privacy and overall cybersecurity with a reliable VPN provider. It masks your IP address and encrypts your network connections, making them unavailable to third parties. A VPN is especially useful if your company relies on remote workers who often use public hotspots and unsecured networks. Some premium VPNs contain malware protection and anti-tracker features that significantly decrease the chances of a ransomware attack.
  • Develop and Test a Response Plan
    How a company responds to a ransomware attack is crucial to successful damage control. Without well-defined procedures to isolate infected systems promptly, the harm will skyrocket. Develop an incident response plan and test it out. Hire a cybersecurity company to perform penetration tests to see how your defenses stack against attacks. Address vulnerabilities discovered in the attack to boost your cybersecurity further.

Stay Vigilant, Stay Safe

With constant technological advancements, our possibilities continue to grow, as do the cyber threats lurking inside them. The good news is that modern cybersecurity offers many reliable tools to prevent devastating hacking incidents like ransomware. It’s impossible to be completely safe from any kind of cyberattack. However, taking strong preventative measures and being mindful of the risks might help you avoid becoming a part of concerning statistics.

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