Ransomware is a cybersecurity risk that many small businesses face, as it locks your documents and programs and forces your business to stop until an IT security professional can remove the virus. This is a type of malware that encrypts your computer until you agree to pay a ransom to cybercriminals, which is often more money than a business can reasonably afford. Below are several issues that this virus can cause.
The basic goal of ransomware is to make your data inaccessible until you pay the ransom, at which point the hackers may unlock it. Some criminals use screen lockers, which can be fairly simple to bypass. However, others encrypt the entire hard drive, making the data nearly almost impossible for IT security experts to access.
If malware infects an important machine or a server, you might lose customer records, tax information, and the software your services are built on. Regularly backing up the entire system is the best way to recover from a ransomware attack, as you can wipe the affected devices and reinstall everything cleanly.
Often, the data locked by ransomware is so valuable that businesses have no choice but to pay. Depending on the nature of the malware, this may cost anywhere from $5,000 to $200,000. Some business owners have even taken out loans to pay cybercriminals to release their data. Even if you have the cash on hand, paying the demand can leave you without the resources to pay employees or make planned investments. This is why IT security experts urge business owners to update their computers and programs regularly, as this helps patch known vulnerabilities.
Most businesses can’t operate without the systems and software they depend on every day. While your computers are locked, you cannot use machinery, contact clients, or process orders. This downtime can cost your company thousands of dollars in missed revenue, even if the system is only down for a day. A ransomware infection can also permanently damage your business’s reputation, potentially keeping you from getting future clients.