According to recent research, by the end of 2021, a new ransomware attack could potentially happen every 11 seconds, an incredibly alarming statistic. In the first half of this year, there have been some highly prevalent attacks that have made headlines, May alone saw four major ransomware attacks take place globally, and this rate is unlikely to slow down.

It’s not just big organisations that are at risk either; organisations of all sizes are currently under threat from cyberattacks. Businesses need a responsive, evolving form of defence, and endpoint protection is a vital tool in that arsenal. Read our full blog to understand the benefits of endpoint protection and find out what you can do to protect your business – and customers – from ransomware.

The ever-changing cyber security threat

In May 2021, the East Coast of America suffered the effects of a large-scale ransomware attack that targeted Colonial Pipeline. This attack, which demanded $4.4 million, targeted the pipeline, which provides roughly 45% of all the fuel for the East Coast, causing prices to skyrocket and disruption for both businesses and consumers alike. Earlier this year, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) in America was hacked by a group in China that could have given them control of transportation systems in New York and Massachusetts. Thankfully this attack failed, but the possibility of future attacks of a similar calibre remains ever-present.

Transport and infrastructure aren’t the only targets for hackers, however. In the same month as the Colonial Pipeline breach, the Irish Health Service (HSE) suffered a ‘catastrophic attack’ that took down its systems and saw the personal data of patients stolen. All of these incidents follow on from a hectic year of cybercrime exacerbated by the COVID-19 lockdown and the move to even more digitised services, with the first half of 2020 seeing approximately 2.5 million new ransomware attacks.

Now more than ever, effective cyber protection and risk management are vital – no matter the size of your business. It might be easy to think that being a small-to-medium business (SMB) means that you aren’t the primary target for attacks, but this is not the case. In fact, 46% of SMBs have already been targeted by ransomware, with the average cost of ransomware-caused downtime now $380,000 per incident. This is a hefty sum for any company but for SMBs, it has the potential to be a major setback, even more so if businesses don’t manage to restore the stolen data, which happens frequently.

What is ransomware?

Ransomware is malicious software that seeks to encrypt files and hold them for ransom. The files won’t be released until the victim pays the hacker, usually a large sum of money and typically in untraceable cryptocurrency.

There are two solutions to a ransomware attack: pay the ransom and potentially lose huge sums of money or ignore it and potentially cripple your service and or have your data made publicly available. The severity of the impact depends on what was stolen and what tools were in place to keep back-ups of that data. Either option will lead to a financial loss as well as damage to the company’s reputation. To avoid this situation, it is important to have the right tools to prevent an attack outright, not just react to one already happening.

Detect and respond – the benefits of Endpoint Protection

To prevent these attacks, organizations should have strong endpoint protection across all devices. Good endpoint protection solutions can detect attacks before they become a threat and respond extremely quickly before the hacker has a chance to encrypt that valuable data.

This category of security product is designed to protect endpoint devices through which data can be obtained while allowing a company’s IT team to easily regulate its use. Modern endpoint solutions are the cornerstone of any modern technology stack and can proactively prevent cybersecurity attacks, rapidly isolate infected hardware, and quickly remediate any fallout from successful intrusions.

The focus of these solutions is to proactively block malware and protect the business network. This is done using a collection of built-in features, including personal firewalls, port and device control, vulnerability assessments, and network monitoring tools that allow the IT team, whether internally ran or managed by a third party, to scan a network and identify abnormalities or potential risk areas.

Any endpoint connection in a business network, from laptops to smartphones to IoT devices like smart fridges and air conditioning, represents a potential point of intrusion for malicious hackers. It’s vital, therefore, that companies invest in endpoint solutions to help prevent and contain cybersecurity attacks, to avoid leaving themselves vulnerable to ransomware attacks and theft of customer data, and the ensuing regulatory penalties, expensive network outages, and loss of brand reputation.

Risk management – the unseen challenge for businesses

Risk management is a vital part of the defence against malicious hackers and having the tools in place to identify areas of risk and protect against it are crucial. The correct cyber security tools can be invaluable in thwarting cyber attacks, but only if you truly understand what elements of your business are at risk and what truly needs protecting.

To protect your business from ransomware, the key is to understand the effects ransomware has on your business, both financial and from a reputation point-of-view, and then introduce an endpoint solution that can monitor for potential risks and keep data safe. Add-on a dedicated IT security team to monitor that tool and include some Advanced Anti-Ransomware protection software to reinforce your network further, and you should be ready for any kind of attack. Just remember that the enemy is always evolving and so we should never feel lax about our security efforts.

Viking Cloud Endpoint Security provides advanced protection, detection, response, and risk analytics to protect your network from the full spectrum of threats, including ransomware attacks. For more information, visit www.vikingcloud.com/solutions/endpoint-detection-and-response

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