Think cyber criminals only target business giants with massive purses? Think again. Small businesses, many without adequate cyber security, have increasingly become targets because of their easy-prey status. Ransomware attacks skyrocketed by a whopping 550% from 2015 to 2016, with small businesses targeted at an increasing rate, according to We here at Frontier IT in Colorado Springs define ransomware and share five startling statistics that all small business owners must see. An added bonus: We’ll fill you in on what you can do to proactively protect one of your company’s most valuable assets: its data.

What is ransomware?
Ransomware is malicious code that attacks a computer, locking up its files until a ransom often hundreds or thousands, but sometimes up to millions, of dollars is paid to cyber criminals. Ransomware is usually acquired via an email attachment or URL and often spreads to other computers on a network. Approximately one third of ransomware victims pay up, Tom Kellermann, chief cyber security officer for Trend Micro Inc., told The Wall Street Journal. Why? Unfortunately, once a defenseless computer is infected, forking over money is usually seen as the quickest, cheapest way to regain control of data.

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Startling statistics
If you think a ransomware attack couldn’t possibly strike your business — ‘Why would they bother with us?’ — think again.

  • One third of small businesses are clueless as to what ransomware is or its potentially devastating implications, according to a 2016 ZDNet article, citing a report by antivirus giant AVG.
  • Most small and medium-size business a staggering 80% “don’t use data protection,” according to a 2015 Wall Street Journal article, citing Intel Security.
  • Downtime caused by ransomware costs small businesses approximately $8,500 an hour. Losses by U.S. small businesses total more than $75 billion each year, according to disaster recovery company Datto’s 2016 ransomware report.

How can I protect my company?
“Threats in the small business sector are constantly increasing, so even the smallest companies need to be able to protect themselves,” according to Vladimir Zapolyansky, of antivirus software developer Kaspersky. “When it comes to ransomware, paying the ransom doesn’t guarantee that data will be returned safely. To ensure protection from ransomware and other types of attacks, businesses need to implement reliable, up-to-date information security solutions as a preventive measure. It is always easier to prevent threats than respond to them when the damage has already been done.”

You can take steps to prevent the acquisition of ransomware, including coaching employees not to open suspicious email attachments and to use utilize strong passwords. But if ransomware were completely preventable, it wouldn’t be the multi-billion dollar, business-ravaging issue that is. Your best bet? Contact a managed service provider, or MSP, that can provide your small to mid-sized company with the cyber security services it needs (like disaster recovery planning and server/network monitoring) in an affordable, à la carte fashion. MSPs like Frontier IT can ensure that your critical data is backed up in multiple locations, thus virtually eliminating your data loss risk.

Feeling the need to chat with an IT expert? Drop us a line. We’d love to partner with you to keep your company strong and its data secure.

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