Published on November 16, 2023, 8:54 pm

Ransomware attacks have become a serious concern for organizations worldwide, and the financial toll is astonishing. According to a new global survey of over 1,100 IT decision-makers at small and midsize companies, 50% of them have been targeted by ransomware attacks. Shockingly, 35% of these businesses have been asked to pay over $100,000 in ransom, while 20% have faced demands ranging from $1 million to $10 million. These figures highlight the immense impact and cost that ransomware attacks can have on businesses.

Despite spending billions of dollars on cybersecurity tools, many organizations still find themselves ill-prepared to defend against ransomware. In fact, less than a quarter (23%) of the respondents in the survey expressed confidence in their ability to recover lost data following such an attack. This lack of preparedness is particularly acute for smaller businesses, with fewer than 20% stating they were very confident in their data recovery capabilities.

Adding to the complexity is the expanding attack surface as organizations adopt technologies like IoT, artificial intelligence (AI), and 5G. These advancements generate vast amounts of data that are vulnerable to compromise and exploitation by ransomware attackers.

To address this growing threat, companies must embrace a new approach to data resilience. Strengthening disaster recovery strategies, implementing backup systems, and utilizing immutable storage solutions are essential steps to prevent mission-critical data loss.

The good news is that most organizations recognize the need for additional investments in protecting against ransomware attacks. The survey revealed that 92% of businesses are already making such investments. The top areas where companies are focusing their resources include security software (64%), training and certification (50%), and managed services (43%).

While these efforts are encouraging, more needs to be done because it’s not a matter of if an organization’s data will be compromised; it’s a matter of when. With ransomware attacks increasing year after year, data backup and recovery should be a top priority for every CIO.

To reduce exposure to ransomware attacks and mitigate potential losses, here are five crucial steps organizations can take:

1. Educate employees: Investing in training programs will help raise awareness among staff about how ransomware operates. By understanding the signs and preventive measures, employees can better protect themselves and the organization. Training should emphasize scrutinizing links and avoiding opening unsolicited email attachments. Employees should only download software from trusted sources and verify digital signatures before execution.

2. Focus on cures as well as prevention: While prevention measures such as firewalls and advanced detection systems are crucial, organizations must also invest in curative measures like backup and recovery solutions and immutable storage. Regular data backups and encryption play significant roles in protecting critical assets, enabling seamless restoration if compromised.

3. Place a premium on data resilience: A company’s data resilience is only as strong as its weakest link. Monitoring vulnerabilities, fixing them promptly, and adopting a defensive posture are essential practices for maintaining resilience against attacks or disruptions. Regularly testing data backup and recovery plans ensures effective restoration of systems in case of an attack or natural disaster.

4. Know what data is most critical: Not all data holds equal value to an organization. Implementing data tiering solutions allows businesses to store less important information in lower-cost storage tiers while ensuring increased energy efficiency by not using high-security storage for every byte of data.

5. Put a disaster recovery plan in place: Despite all preventive measures, it is vital to have a comprehensive disaster recovery plan in place. Organizations need to back up their critical data frequently, ideally every 15 minutes, including remote workers’ data and applications like Microsoft 365. A good disaster recovery solution offers flexibility regarding location and schedule while enabling easy testing to validate recovery-time goals.

In conclusion, there is no foolproof defense against ransomware attacks. It requires a multi-layered approach that combines employee education, reliable data backup and recovery solutions, immutable storage, and a robust disaster recovery plan. By proactively implementing these measures, organizations can stay ahead of this growing threat, safeguard their data, and protect their bottom line.

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