Ransomware is a type of malicious software that seeks to gain control of an organization’s systems or private data. The attacker then forces the company to pay some sort of ransom in exchange for a decryption key that will restore access. The ransom is typically in an untraceable cryptocurrency.
Ransomware attacks have been around for decades and have been steadily increasing. In 2021, SonicWall tracked more than 623 million attempted ransomware attacks on their customers. This was a 105% increase over 2020 and more than triple the number of attacks in 2019.
There are 5 basic types of ransomware: crypto malware, lockers, scareware, doxware, and RaaS.
The most common form of ransomware is crypto malware which encrypts a hard drive and then demands payment of a ransom before a deadline.
Lockers infect an operating system to completely lock the victim out of their computer preventing access to any applications or files.
Scareware is malicious software posing as an antivirus tool, that claims to have found issues on a computer and then requests payment to fix them.
Doxware or Leakware, accesses sensitive files and then threatens to publish the victim’s stolen information online unless the ransom is paid. This only works if the victim has photos or personal data they fear being made public.
RaaS (Ransomware as a Service)
RaaS is a type of malware hosted by a hacker. These cybercriminals make their software and services available for hire to other criminals in exchange for a share of the ransom collected.
Impact on a Contact Center
Ransomware attacks can impact your contact center in a variety of ways. Critical communication systems and customer data may be locked down, as well as many or all of the underlying applications. Additionally, your organization’s reputation may experience a significant negative impact, including the loss of customer confidence.
Your contact center is the hub of your customer interaction and a primary driver their customer experience. If the channels of communication become frozen by a ransomware attack, the effect can be devastating to your business. Likewise, your operations can be seriously impeded or even crippled if the tools your customer service agents use to expedite orders or resolve problems are locked from access.
Contact centers rely heavily on data to keep customer service levels and problem resolution activities functioning smoothly. If your data centers are impacted by a ransomware event, your business analytics and operations will also be affected. Moreover, sensitive customer data can be stolen or manipulated, causing serious problems both for your business and your customers as well.
One of the biggest consequences of a ransomware attack will be the negative effect on your company’s reputation in the marketplace. Any loss of customer confidence can have a serious impact, not just in revenue but also in stock values or future investment potential.
Response and recovery
Given the increase in ransomware attacks and the potential damage they can cause, it is critical to take steps to mitigate the impact of an attack. Because there is no single solution to ransomware, it is best to use a multi-pronged security approach that focuses on prevention and recovery.
Let’s consider several ways to guard against ransomware attacks.
Since ransomware attacks can come from an employee clicking on a link or opening a file from a phishing email, the first step is to educate staff on such risks. Be sure your employees are guarding against and notifying your IT security team about suspicious emails. Make sure they do not click on any links or open any attachments from an email address with which they are not familiar. Training sessions, updates, reminders and refresher courses need to be made a regular occurrence for your employees, since the tactics of cybercriminals evolve.
Another key practice is to incorporate advanced ransomware protection software into your overall cybersecurity program. Extended detection and response technologies can help organizations identify potential risks and vulnerable targets that could lead to ransomware exploitation. And make sure all your security software and firmware are updated on a regular basis.
Another tactic for detecting ransomware is to create a “honeypot.” A honeypot is a fake data or file repository designed to look like a high-value target to ransomware attackers. This can help you both detect a ransomware attack earlier, and also learn more how cybercriminals operate, so you can guard against future attacks.
It is also important to perform frequent backups of critical data. The Department of Homeland Security recommends following the 3-2-1 rule. This means you should create 3 copies of your data, store them on 2 different media, with 1 of them being stored off-site. This can help protect critical data and ensure that it can be recovered quickly.
Even the best preventative measures cannot prevent all ransomware attacks. So if one does occur, you should immediately notify the relevant authorities. If the attack was successful, law enforcement agencies may be able to help track down the criminals and bring them to justice. And if the attack failed, they may still learn a lot from your experience.
You may also want to consider purchasing cyber-insurance to help mitigate your financial losses due to a cyber-attack. An insurance company can help identify potential threats to your organization and conduct an audit of your security systems to look for vulnerabilities.
The Need for Vigilance
Unfortunately, the danger of ransomware and other cyber-attacks will always be present. It is an ongoing battle and part of your business strategies should involve cybersecurity. InterVision has been helping businesses solve IT problems for more than 25 years. Our experts are ready to help you evaluate your preparedness and recovery plans to make sure your company can minimize the risks and impacts of a cyber-attack.
InterVision works with leading technology providers to offer solutions such as Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) that help businesses recover from a wide range of events, including cyber-attacks.
InterVision has also launched the first managed service, designed specifically to provide end-to-end protection against ransomware attacks. Our Ransomware Protection as a Service™ (RPaaS™) takes a holistic approach to ransomware threats, focusing on detection, protection and recovery.
If you are concerned about cybersecurity or seeking to improve your protection against ransomware attacks, visit our website or call 844-622-5710 to speak with one of our experts today.