Small Businesses Targeted by Ransomware

Small businesses continue to be targeted by cyber-attacks, including ransomware. We frequently hear about it in the news media. Healthcare has been a gold mine for hackers because medical records contain such valuable information. Those of us in the tax profession get constant warnings from the IRS about cyber diligence to protect confidential tax client data, such as Social Security and bank account numbers.

It’s pretty scary for small businesses out on the web. Consider these sobering statistics from a recent research report, Cyber Confident Index 2022, conducted by Wakefield Research:

• 85 percent of companies have experienced ransomware in the past five years

• 72 percent of those who suffered attacks have paid the ransom

• 60 percent have been hit more than once

Even among industry professionals who have followed the rise of ransomware in recent years, these statistics are grave. The more damage ransomware causes, the higher the payout that attackers ensure. The average cost of attacks now exceeds $1 million. Meanwhile, the cost of cyberbreach insurance has skyrocketed 400 percent in the past two years because companies are being attacked at a higher rate, resulting in higher levels of extortions and payment.

So, what can small businesses do to guard against ransomware? Here are six tips to avoid becoming a ransomware victim:

  1. Keep software systems up to date and use a good anti-virus program.
  1. Examine the email address and URLs in all correspondence to detect a scammer mimicking a legitimate site or email address.
  1. Ignore text messages, emails, or phone calls asking you to update or verify your account information and go to the company’s website to see if something needs your attention.
  1. Never open unexpected attachments until verifying the sender’s email address and use virus scan before opening any document.
  1. Scrutinize all electronic requests for a payment or fund transfers.
  1. Be extra suspicious of any message that urges immediate action.

Don’t want to be a ransomware attack victim? It’s hard to be 100% on anything but following these six tips to avoid a ransomware attack can help protect your systems from unscrupulous hackers who want to grab valuable data from your small business.