According to the FBI, ransomware attacks cost victims a whopping $209 million in the first three months of 2016 – up from $24 million for all of 2015 – and as an ethical hacker with an in-depth understanding of how cybercriminals operate, I assure you these vicious attacks will continue.
The effects of a ransomware attack are devastating for any business and often extend beyond immediate financial losses. There is a very real reputation risk, and a large enough attack could even cause a company to go out of business. This is especially true with small businesses, as a recent survey commissioned by my company MonsterCloud, a leader in managed cybersecurity services, revealed that these companies are disproportionately vulnerable to a ransomware attack.
We polled 284 U.S. companies and found that while most large enterprises and mid-sized companies have in-house dedicated IT personnel, only 17 percent of small businesses could say the same. Furthermore, just 15 percent of small businesses reported that they are aware of the ransomware threat and had taken incremental precautions to protect themselves from an attack. These are seriously alarming statistics from a cybersecurity perspective, and I cannot emphasize the importance of having a dedicated, experience IT professional – or better yet, a team of IT professionals – enough when it comes to preventing a ransomware attack.
While investing in advanced cybersecurity technology is a good start, it’s simply not enough. Cybercriminals search for new vulnerabilities and ways to infiltrate a company’s IT system constantly, which is why every business needs to have a dedicated cybersecurity professional to proactively identify these vulnerabilities before an outsider does. I encourage business owners to consider managed cybersecurity services as a form of IT insurance. You could go years without suffering from a cybersecurity attack, but once you do, you’ll wish you had invested in that IT insurance.