If you’ve been paying attention to the news lately, you’ve likely heard of all the hacking events that have taken place regarding large companies. A pipeline was shut down, and the meat packing industry was disrupted. These were just two of the larger and more widely publicized ransomware attacks that have happened this year, and they both caused a severe impact on the supply chain and prices of necessities.

But these events were certainly not anomalies. In 2020, the frequency of ransomware attacks increased by 150 percent. And perhaps more disturbingly, the ransom amounts demanded of, and paid by victims has tripled. Even worse, we’re seeing another increase in this type of activity this year, with ransom amounts reaching the tens of millions of dollars.

But it’s not just large companies that have been targeted. Yes, those are the events that make the news, but hackers actually target small and mid-sized businesses even more often. While large companies offer the promise of a larger payoff, their systems can be much more challenging to infiltrate. Because smaller companies often lack the top-level security of larger organizations, they offer an easier and quicker payday. Much of the above statistics is made up of small and mid-sized companies.

In addition to frequency of attacks, methods of infiltration have changed as well. In the past, phishing emails were usually the primary route into a business’s system, with hackers counting upon unwitting employees to click a bogus link. Then, once inside, hackers would lock the system and demand payment before allowing the business access to their own files and equipment again. While that method is still employed today, we’re seeing increasing amounts of actual data hijacked and exploited. Hackers are actually swiping files, and threatening to expose the information to the world if companies don’t pay up.

Whether to pay the ransom depends upon a series of questions, such as the sensitivity of the data potentially exposed, whether that information has been backed up, the potential cost to the company’s reputation, and more. In some cases, insurance companies even get involved in the decision (if the company carries cyber insurance).

Of course, preventing the situation is always better than negotiating a ransom with hackers. Smaller and mid-sized businesses can access the same tools that larger organizations use to defend themselves, by outsourcing this task to IT professionals. Give us a call at 888-RING-MY-TECH, and we can help you learn how to protect your data, your reputation, and your bottom line.