Ransomware may be the most treacherous threat to emerge from the digital age thus far. Cybercriminals everywhere are deceiving staff members at companies, hospitals and government organizations, then holding key corporate data under encryption until their financial demands are met.
How serious is the epidemic? According to ComputerWorld, the Cryptowall family of ransomware has already stolen over $325 million through its scams, while countless other schemes are emerging across the digital realm.
Don't pay up – restore and recover
The most concerning aspect of ransomware is that there appears to be no solution to the problem once the attack has been initiated and a user takes the bait. If cybercriminals have encrypted the information, there's no getting through that barrier – unless a hefty fine is paid. No matter what, there's going to be capital loss when ransomware takes effect – or so the cybercriminals want their victims to think.
"Ransomware, which encrypts files until a victim pays to have them unlocked, can be devastating to an organization," explained InfoWorld contributor Jeremy Kirk. "Barring an up-to-date backup, little can be done aside from paying the attackers to provide the decryption keys."
"There's one secret that can help companies beat ransomware."
It's easy to miss at first glance, but Kirk offered the key to overcoming ransomware in only a few words. An up-to-date backup is the golden ticket, giving a company the ability to restore all of its vital information exactly as it was in the last backup prior to the attack.
In a game of cybercriminal warfare, total data restoration appears to be the only answer to ransomware. Now, it's up to IT leaders to bring this to the attention of company executives and ensure that they have a recovery solution that not only restores information in full, but brings back the data in its most recent iteration.
Get a complete solution in place
It's not all about the data – sometimes ransomware criminals aim to bring an entire network down if the victims choose not to pay. That's why a business continuity solution must be a part of any modern risk protection program, ensuring that employees can continue to work if primary networks are offline.
For instance, if cybercriminals disable systems at a main office location, there should be a backup workspace ready to go. While the main network is being fixed, employees will remain productive and the attack will be rendered completely ineffective. This is the comprehensive approach to risk management that every firm should have in place.
When dealing with cybercriminals, it's best to not negotiate. Instead, the entire crisis can be averted by restoring the information that is being held for ransom. With the addition of a backup workspace, there is nothing the criminals can do to get the money they ask for.
Smart companies have already found the loophole that stops ransomware in its tracks: a complete data restoration and business continuity solution.