One of the biggest stories of the week, the worldwide WannaCry ransomware attack, continues to gain momentum as the payment deadline approaches. The malicious software took advantage of vulnerabilities in commonly run software, impacting hundreds of thousands of computers across the globe.
According to the New York Times, “Early estimates of what the virus could ultimately earn had ranged into the tens of millions or even hundreds of millions of dollars. Victims have seven days to pay from when their computers were originally infected, so the deadline will vary from case to case.”
WannaCry, like most ransomware attacks, encrypts and eventually destroys data unless a “key” is provided to unlock and restore the information. Once payment is made, thieves promise to provide keys.
Companies around the world are struggling to find alternatives to paying, however, because there is no guarantee the perpetrators will be true to their word of that data will be safely restored. Collectively, it’s costing those businesses millions to replace hardware, patch vulnerabilities, recover data, and identify solutions to avoid future attacks.
While companies can often develop their own keys to unlock encrypted data, it is expensive, risky and can’t always be done in time to meet a ransomware deadline. Late this week, cybersecurity researchers released their own key developed to help decrypt files impacted by WannaCry. Other resources, such as the organization No More Ransom, offer keys to common ransomware software. Unfortunately, publicly available options are rare and frequently don’t work.
In many cases, neither payment to thieves nor efforts to recover data are possible because of the prohibitive costs involved. Hundreds of thousands of victims of the WannaCry attack are in the public health and education sectors and lack resources to address the issue. In some of those cases, the loss of data can literally mean life or death. That is a particularly cruel aspect of the WannaCry attack.
There are additional, hidden costs and challenges when dealing with ransomware. An even more recent attack dubbed “Adylkuzz” does not issue a ransom note at all. There are few signs of this malware on infected computers, beyond minor impact on how fast applications run.
Adylkuzz takes advantage of the same hole used by WannaCry, exploiting old Windows software. However, unlike WannaCry, this attack installs a "miner" to generate Monero, a kind of cryptocurrency generated by computing power. In the case of Adylkuzz, victims may pay extensively over a long period of time without being aware of what’s happening.
Regardless of the type of ransomware attack, or your response to it, chances are it will cost you. That means cash out of pocket, time spent attempting to recover and restore data, lost productivity, and other associated costs. Plus, the tears you’ll shed at the thought of losing your most important assets.
One of the best defenses against ransomware and other, less noticeable threats (besides a robust antivirus program with email attachment scanning) is endpoint backup.
By continuously backing up data on endpoint devices (laptops, desktops, even mobile devices), you’re guaranteed to have a “clean” version of a device that you can revert to if you discover a threat or the current version is taken for ransom.
Enpoint backup is just one feature of Vaultize’s comprehensive platform. Investing in Vaultize grants you access to document rights management, automatic versioning and file tracking, secure email attachments that allow you to send larger files safer, and end-to-end data encryption that protects your sensitive information even if it goes astray. Our solution is scalable and affordable, plus we work with both workstations and mobile devices. Everyone at your organization will be secure on any device, wherever they are. Plus, protections on your data travel beyond your company’s devices – documents shared with external partners carry Vaultize encryption, control and tracking modules with them.
To be clear, the WannaCry attack will not be the last major global ransomware attack. As long as there are enterprises who lack a solid endpoint backup program and comprehensive data security strategy, there will be lucrative opportunities for cyber criminals to seize and ransom data. Secure the prosperity of your business and protect against heavy damages from future attacks with endpoint backup.
Vaultize is an innovative data security company that allows customers to track and control their documents from creation to deletion on any device, anywhere. From CYA to compliance, Vaultize provides data protection without restricting use. Vaultize’s platform utilizes DRM and encryption to secure any and every file, protect those files no matter where they travel, and provide visibility into who is accessing them and how they are being used. The Vaultize platform is nearly transparent to users, scalable and flexible to deploy. For more information, visit www.vaultize.com.