Information Center

Everything You Need to Know About Ransomware

According to a report by the Digital Marketing Institute, 27% of managers believe that digitization is integral to business survival. However, as organizations expand their digital footprint, security and risk executives are under more pressure than ever to keep control of cybersecurity.

Among the numerous cyber threats, ransomware is increasing in frequency and magnitude. From January to July 2021, the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center received 2,084 complaints about ransomware. This is 62% more than they did during the same period last year.

What's more, the average loss per complaint is also rising. As a business leader, protecting your organization from such threats is just as important as offering great products and services.

In this article, you'll find a clear ransomware definition, learn how your business is exposed, and learn what to do to prevent ransomware attacks.

What Is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a type of malicious software that blocks access to files or systems until a ransom is paid. The name comes from the malware asking users to pay a ransom to unlock their files or systems.

Ransomware can be spread through several methods, including email attachments, infected websites, and Trojan horses. Once installed, the ransomware will encrypt certain files on the victim's computer and demand a ransom payment to decrypt them.

Origin of Ransomware

When you hear about ransomware, it's easy to assume that they've only been around for a short period. Well, that's because they've only garnered mainstream attention over the past decade.

However, Ransomware has been around for over three decades. The first recorded ransomware attack dates back to 1989, when AIDS Trojan was used to extort money from individuals and organizations. The malware would encrypt files on the victim's computer and then display a message demanding $189 to decrypt the files.

In 2005, GPCode was used to target personal computers. The ransomware would encrypt users' files and then demand a ransom of $200 to decrypt them.

Over the years, ransomware has evolved, moreso the delivery mode. Early ransomware was mostly spread through email attachments. Either you or one of your employees receives an email that looks serious, and when you open the attachment, your system gets infected.

But modern ransomware is often delivered through exploit kits that take advantage of vulnerabilities in software programs. These kits are then spread through malicious websites or emails. Once a user visits the website or opens the email, their system gets infected, and the ransomware encrypts their files.

It was not until the WannaCry outbreak of 2017 that ransomware gained popularity. This was the first large-scale and highly-publicized attack that used ransomware to encrypt users' files and demand a ransom.

The WannaCry attack was so effective that it infected more than 230,000 computers in 150 countries within four days. The attackers demanded a ransom of $300 in Bitcoin for each computer that they infected. Since then, more ransomware variants have been used in several other attacks.

Another factor contributing to the rise in ransomware attacks is the recent COVID-19 pandemic. With the need to resume operations, organizations embraced remote work. However, this opened up new attack vectors for cybercriminals. As a result, there was a surge in ransomware attacks towards the end of 2020.

How Does Ransomware Work?

Ransomware is often spread through phishing emails or malicious websites. These emails and websites will usually contain an attachment or link that, when clicked, will install the ransomware on your computer.

Phishing emails are often disguised as being from a legitimate organization or person. They may even look like they're from someone you know. The email usually indicates a sense of urgency to get you to click on the attachment or link without thinking.

Once the ransomware is installed on your computer, it will start encrypting files. As such, your files will be locked, and you will be unable to access them. A ransom note will then be displayed, demanding payment to decrypt the files.

The ransom note will usually contain instructions on how to make the payment and a time limit. If you don't pay the ransom within the specified time, the price will go up, or the attackers will delete your files.

In some cases, the ransomware will also encrypt files on any connected devices, such as external hard drives or USB drives. It may also spread to other computers on the same network.

How Do You Get Ransomware?

Ransomware can be spread through several methods, including email attachments, infected websites, and Trojan horses. Once installed, the ransomware will encrypt certain files on the victim's computer and demand a ransom payment to decrypt them.

1.  Email Attachments

One of the most common methods of spreading ransomware is through email attachments. Attackers will send emails that look like they're from a legitimate sender, such as your bank or a company you do business with. The email will often contain an attachment that, when opened, will infect your computer with ransomware.

2.  Infected Websites

Another common method of spreading ransomware is through infected websites. These websites usually host exploit kits that scan for vulnerabilities in your browser or plugins and then infect your computer with malware if any are found. Once your computer is infected, the ransomware will encrypt files on your system and demand a ransom to decrypt them.

3.  Trojan Horses

Trojan horses can also be used to spread ransomware. A Trojan horse is a type of malware that disguises itself as a legitimate program or file to trick users into downloading it. Once installed, the Trojan horse will install the ransomware onto your system and encrypt your files.

Who Do Ransomware Authors Target?

Ransomware authors typically target organizations because they know businesses can't afford to have their systems down for long. However, individuals can also be targets if the attacker knows they have important files they can't afford to lose.

Organizations in the healthcare, government, and financial sectors are often targeted because they hold sensitive information that attackers can use to blackmail the organization. Individuals are also targets if the attacker knows they have important personal photos or videos, such as wedding photos or videos of their children's birthdays.

Why Do You Need Ransomware Protection?

Ransomware is a serious threat to both businesses and individuals. If you don't have ransomware protection, you could find yourself in a situation where you can't access your files or your system. This can lead to lost productivity, revenue, and even data loss.

Some of the effects of ransomware attacks include:

1.  Loss of Productivity

By design, ransomware encrypts the data in affected devices. As the name suggests, your data is held hostage, and you'll receive a message prompting you to pay a ransom. Otherwise, the data will not be decrypted and will remain inaccessible.

During this time, your teams will not be able to access key data necessary to perform their roles. This can significantly impact productivity as your personnel scramble to find workarounds.

Depending on how long it takes to resolve the issue, this could lead to costly delays or project failures.

2.  Loss of Revenue and Unnecessary Expenses

A ransomware attack can lead to a loss in revenue in several ways. First, if you cannot access your data, you may not be able to perform the tasks necessary to generate revenue. These include reaching out to leads and clients about potential opportunities to close sales.

When you're locked out of your data, employees will not have the necessary information to fulfill orders. This can result in production delays and unhappy customers who take their business elsewhere.

You may also lose revenue due to the ransomware itself. To decrypt your data, you'll likely need to pay a ransom. This can be a substantial amount depending on your organization's size and the amount of data that's been encrypted.

Moreover, you may need to hire an expert to help you decrypt the data. This is even after paying the ransom, as some attackers may still not decrypt them for you. The decryption cost can be high depending on factors such as the agency, extent of decryption, and amount of data.

And that's not all. Your organization could face hefty fines if consumer data is exposed during such a breach. For example, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) imposes a maximum fine of 4% of an organization's global revenue or €20 million (whichever is greater).

Your customers will also have the legal right to sue you for any damages incurred due to the exposure of their personal data. Depending on the nature of the breach, you can end up paying millions of dollars in legal fees and settlements. (See Regulatory Compliance, CPRA, PCI for more information.)

3.  Data Loss

Ideally, you may not want to consider paying attackers to restore your access to your data. However, that's easier said than done. Modern-day businesses rely on data in virtually all aspects. It plays a role in marketing, sales, customer service, and human resources.

If you've been in business for a long time, you likely have years' worth of data. Such data may range from proprietary information to client details and preferences. All of which are integral to how the business operates. That's why any downtime caused by an inability to access data can be detrimental.

Sadly, ransomware attacks can quickly turn into nightmares for businesses. Despite your efforts to pay the ransom or hire cybersecurity experts, your data may be corrupted, making it unusable.

As you can imagine, that's a frightening outcome. Data shows that the impact of data loss is so severe that among the small businesses affected, 40-60% cannot reopen.

4.  Reputation Damage

In addition to the financial impact, ransomware attacks can also cause reputational damage.

Your business's reputation is essential as it's one of the key drivers of growth. It takes years to build and only a fraction of that time to destroy.

When consumer data is breached, your clients become vulnerable to threats such as identity theft and fraud. When they interact with your business and provide personal details such as names and their financial information, they do so in the trust that you'll safeguard it.

An attack can quickly damage your brand image and leave customers questioning whether they can trust you with their data. As such, recovering from such an incident will be difficult. You'll need to take steps to improve your cybersecurity posture and regain the trust of your clients.

Depending on the extent of the breach and how it's handled, damage to your reputation may be irreversible. Given the competitive nature of the business ecosystem today, they'll swiftly switch to your rivals.

5.  Employee Layoffs

It's not uncommon for businesses to lay off employees after a ransomware attack.

While this may seem extreme, it's often done to minimize losses and reduce operational costs. Sometimes, it may be the only way to keep the business afloat.

Ransomware attacks can quickly cripple businesses, leaving them unable to meet their financial obligations. You may need to take out loans or dip into emergency funds to stay afloat.

In other instances, reducing your workforce will be necessary to stay within the budget. Such a move would help you avoid paying salaries when no work is done. It would also help you save on other associated costs, such as healthcare and benefits.

It's worth noting that employee layoffs can have long-term negative effects on your business. They can damage morale, hinder productivity, and make it difficult to attract top talent in the future. As such, layoffs should only be considered as a last resort.

6.  C-Level Talent Loss

The departure of key personnel is another significant consequence of ransomware attacks.

When a business is hit with an attack, the board and management often blame the Chief Information Officer (CIO) or Chief Security Officer (CSO).

In some cases, this may be justified as they're responsible for the safety of the organization's data. However, in other instances, the attack may have been due to factors beyond their control.

Either way, the pressure on them can be too much to handle. As a result, they may decide to leave the organization in search of greener pastures.

The departure of such high-level personnel can significantly impact the business. They often leave with a wealth of knowledge and experience. So, losing them can set the business back and make it difficult to recover from the attack.

Long-Term Impact of Ransomware Attacks

The long-term effects of a ransomware attack can be just as devastating as the short-term ones.

In some cases, businesses may never fully recover from the incident. Even if you're able to weather the storm, the attack will have a lasting impact on your business. You'll need to alter your cybersecurity posture and invest in new technologies.

You may also need to implement new processes and procedures to prevent future attacks. Such measures can be costly and time-consuming. They can also hinder productivity and impede innovation. As a result, the ransomware attack may end up costing you more than the ransom itself.

In the worst-case scenario, the attack may force you to shut down your business. This is often the case for small businesses that don't have the resources to recover from the incident.

The long-term impact of a ransomware attack can be far-reaching. It can damage your reputation, hinder productivity, and force you to make costly changes to your business. In some cases, it may even lead to the demise of your organization.

Cybersecurity Improvement

Ransomware attacks can be costly and have a significant impact on businesses. However, they also present an opportunity for businesses to improve their cybersecurity posture.

No organization is immune to cyber threats but taking steps to improve your cybersecurity can make it more difficult for attackers to target you. It can also help you detect and respond to attacks quickly, limiting the damage caused.

Here are some recommendations:

  • Educate employees on cybersecurity threats and the importance of following best practices
  • Implement strict access controls to limit who can access sensitive data
  • Conduct regular security audits to identify weaknesses in your system
  • Implement a backup and disaster recovery plan to ensure you can recover from an attack

Taking steps to improve your cybersecurity can make it more difficult for attackers to target you. It also helps limit the damage caused by an attack and quickly recover from it.

Prevention is Key | Get Help From Veritas

As you can see, ransomware is a serious threat. It can have far-reaching consequences that could lead to the downfall of your business.

That's why it's important to take preventive measures against such attacks. Depending on the size of your organization, you may want to consider comprehensive cybersecurity solutions.

Veritas Technologies is a leader in data protection and availability. We offer a wide range of products and services that can help you protect your business from ransomware attacks.

Our solutions are designed to help you quickly recover from an attack while improving your overall cybersecurity posture.

Here are some of the solutions we offer:

1.  Ransomware Resiliency

Our team of cybersecurity experts will work with you to assess your risks and develop a ransomware resiliency plan. This plan will help you identify potential attacks and take steps to prevent them. Furthermore, it will also help you recover quickly if an attack does occur.

2.  Security Awareness Training

We offer security awareness training that can educate your employees on identifying and responding to ransomware attacks. This training can help you prevent attacks and limit the damage caused if one does occur.

3.  Endpoint Protection

We offer endpoint protection solutions that can detect and block ransomware attacks. These solutions use artificial intelligence to identify and stop new and emerging threats.

4.  Education Services and Certification

In addition to security awareness training, we offer education services to help you understand the latest ransomware threats. We also offer certification programs that can help you validate your skills and knowledge.

5.  Data Compliance and Governance

We offer data compliance and governance solutions that can help you protect your sensitive data. These solutions can help you meet regulatory requirements and protect your data from attackers.

6.  Data Migration

If your data is not stored securely, our data migration solutions can help you move it to a secure location. These solutions can also help you recover quickly from an attack and get your business back up and running.

7.  Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery

We offer business continuity and disaster recovery solutions that can help you keep your business running in the event of an attack. These solutions can help you recover quickly and minimize the impact of an attack.


Ransomware attacks can have a significant impact on businesses, both in the short and long term. They can damage your reputation, hinder productivity, and force you to make costly changes to your business. In some cases, they may even lead to the demise of your organization.

To protect your business, investing in a comprehensive ransomware protection solution is important. Such a solution would help you detect and block ransomware attacks before they can do any damage.

If you're looking for comprehensive ransomware protection, Veritas Technologies can help. We offer a wide range of products and services that can help you protect your business from attacks. Contact us today to learn more about our solutions.


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