The growth of Ransomware-as-a-Service (and how you can keep your business safe)

Recently, the number of ransomware attacks has skyrocketed, putting organizations across Florida and beyond at great risk of incurring huge losses in productivity, profitability, and reputation. In the first half of 2021, 1,097 organizations were hit by ransomware attacks — only 15 attacks fewer than the 1,112 reported throughout the previous year. There are also numerous new ransomware variants out there today, some of which have been developed and are being distributed by cybercriminals who have adopted the Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) model.

What is Ransomware-as-a-Service?

Ransomware-as-a-Service is a business model where malicious software developers sell or lease ready-made ransomware kits to other bad actors who may not be skilled enough or have the time to create their own ransomware variants. These kits can easily be bought on the dark web, where they sell for anywhere from $40 to several thousand dollars.

To purchase a ransomware kit, a customer can simply log in to a RaaS portal where they can customize their own ransomware, and then pay in Bitcoin or some other type of cryptocurrency. If the customer does business with larger, more sophisticated RaaS operators, they may even receive feature updates and 24/7 support. They may also track information about their targets, including the status of infections and ransom payments.

Why is RaaS a threat to businesses?

With RaaS tools, anyone — even individuals or groups with little technical skill or know-how — can launch a ransomware attack. What’s more, many RaaS operators are now offering special deals on their products to attract more customers. Lower prices make it easier for cybercriminals to get their hands on the tools they need to execute a ransomware attack. This spells bad news for businesses, including small and mid-sized ones, who may suddenly find themselves the victim of a ransomware attack and being extorted for thousands or millions of dollars.

With RaaS tools — even individuals or groups with little technical skill or know-how — can launch a ransomware attack.

How can you defend against ransomware?

Ransomware and RaaS are expected to continue to grow over the next few years, targeting and wreaking havoc on all industries. Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do to keep your business secure, including the following:

Foster a strong cybersecurity culture. Instill the concept that every member of the team is responsible for keeping your company’s IT infrastructure secure. You can do this by creating awareness of ransomware and other cyberthreats through regular cybersecurity training. Your training program should address how such threats work, how to spot them, and what to do in the face of one. It should also include ransomware simulations to assess your employees’ preparedness for an actual attack, and cover cybersecurity best practices as well.

Adopt a multilayered approach to cybersecurity. On top of antivirus and anti-malware software, implement cybersecurity solutions such as next-generation firewalls, round-the-clock network monitoring, data encryption software, and advanced threat protection.

Keep software and operating systems updated. Routinely check for updates and install them as soon as they become available. Delaying updates for even one day can expose you to a raft of cybersecurity risks, including ransomware attacks, which usually exploit software vulnerabilities to infect files and systems.

Schedule regular backups. Routinely back up mission-critical files to an external hard drive or magnetic tape as well as to an off-site data center. Having multiple backups in different locations ensures that in the event of a ransomware attack, you’ll still have good, uninfected copies of important files to fall back on, minimizing downtime and productivity losses.

Partner with a managed IT services provider (MSP). For a small, fixed monthly fee, an MSP will deploy, monitor, and maintain solutions that will keep your company’s network protected against ransomware. And should ransomware still manage to infiltrate your systems, your MSP will know exactly what to do to address the threat and keep it from causing further damage.

Ransomware protection isn’t the only thing that MSPs such as Cutting Edge Network Technologies have to offer. We also provide the tools and services required to optimize your IT infrastructure so you can focus on delivering quality service to your own customers and growing your business. For more information about what Cutting Edge can do and how we can help improve your business, drop us a line today or download this free eBook.

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