Threat levels from ransomware continue to spike, and the expected fallout could be significant according to the FBI. While the details are not specific, the FBI notes that remote desktop-based (RDP) attacks are one area of significant growth for cybercriminals. These individuals are using credential stuffing and brute-force attacks or leveraging stolen credentials obtained on the dark web to trigger attacks in small to mid-size businesses. “Once they have RDP access, criminals can deploy a range of malware—including ransomware—to victim systems,” the FBI warned. This explosion of ransomware is expected to wash over organizations of all sizes as a broader range of cybercriminals discover how quickly they can gain access to untraceable funds.
Internal Business Security Dangers
Your best business asset is also the greatest danger to your security: your staff. Americans are frighteningly unaware of cybersecurity dangers, which is clearly illustrated by a recent survey from the Pew Research Center. Nearly 4,500 respondents shared their understanding of core cybersecurity concepts, and the results of the survey are quite shocking. The simple 10-question survey was designed to test cybersecurity knowledge — and only 2% of respondents answered correctly on all 10 questions, with 20% getting at least 7 of the questions correct.
Questions addressed topics businesses would hope their employees understand:
- Whether phishing scams can occur only on email or also on social media, text messages or websites
- That social media platforms utilize advertising as their primary source of revenue
- What “Cookies” are, and the information that is being tracked on your computer
- Key indicators that you’re browsing a non-secure website (http:// instead of https://)
When you consider that these are the individuals who are likely serving various roles in American businesses, it’s no longer surprising that ransomware and other cybersecurity issues are often (accidentally) helped along by employees.
The Ransomware Explosion
Cybercriminals are equal-opportunity offenders, attacking organizations of all sizes and types from government entities to schools, small businesses and hospitals. What’s dangerous is that these attacks can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and can start with the most innocent action: a simple click on a website or within an email that launches ransomware into your business systems. If you’re fortunate, you have a robust backup and disaster recovery strategy in place and can quickly recover from the attack.
While preparedness is increasing, many businesses are still caught without the proactive disaster recovery strategies in place — requiring that the business either enters an expensive remediation phase or pay the ransom. More than 140 local organizations have been held hostage in the past 10 months, and that number only includes the organizations that have reported the incident. Many others likely pay the ransom quietly in an attempt to minimize the negative publicity that can come with an attack.