Shelley Kilpatrick

Over the last few years, cybercrime has been on a massive upswing. And one of the newest ways criminals are attacking businesses is through ransomware. Business Insider reports that since 2005 the DOJ’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) has received over 7,000 complaints about ransomware-which adds up to $57.6 million in damages.

Additionally, the Washington Post claims that during a nine-month period in 2014, the FBI received 1,838 complaints about ransomware and victims lost more than $23.7million.

With millions of dollars at stake as well as priceless data, your business can’t afford to be at risk. So here are some basic things you need to know to keep your information safe from ransomware.

1. What is Ransomware?

Geekwire, a technology news site, explains: Ransomware is software that is inserted onto the victim’s computer that encrypts the files on the hard drive. It typically gets there through an infected email or website that the victim clicks on. Then the information is held hostage with an encryption and a ransom for the access key is demanded.

2. What Does Ransomware Do?

According to Microsoft there are many different types of ransomware; however, they all do basically the same things:

  • Prevent you from accessing Windows
  • Encrypt files so you can’t use them
  • Stop certain apps from running (like your web browser)

3. Who Does Ransomware Affect?

The FBI advises that anyone is vulnerable to ransomware. Cybercriminals can target PC users and Mac users at home, and also at work.Businesses, financial institutions, government agencies, academic institutions, and other organizations are just as much at risk as users on their home computers.

When a business falls victim to a ransomware attack, they may experience a wide range of negative consequences:

  • Loss of sensitive or proprietary information
  • Loss of revenue due to downtime
  • Disruption of regular operations
  • Costs incurred to restore systems and files
  • Damage to the businesses’ reputation

4. Should You Pay the Ransom?

This decision is completely up to you, and you should evaluate all your options and make the call that is best for your organization. With that in mind, the FBI recommends not paying the ransom for the following reasons:

  • There’s no guarantee you will regain access to your information
  • Paying a ransom strengthens cybercriminals’ ability to target other organizations
  • It can encourage other criminals to commit cybercrimes with ransomware
  • You could inadvertently fund further criminal activity

The FBI also encourages businesses to contact their local field office immediately if they become the victim of a ransomware cyberattack.

5. How Can You Protect Against Ransomware?

There are a number of different things that you should do to protect your data and information from ransomware including:

Back up your files: Keep your files backed up in different locations and ensure that these copies are kept off-site.

Train your employees: Use cybersecurity training to teach your employees about identifying and responding to ransomware.

Keep security systems updated: Ensure that your firewalls and virus protection programs are working properly and updated frequently.

Create a plan: Have a plan in place for what you will do if your organization does become the victim of a ransomware attack.


Cybercrime is on the rise all over the world. And businesses aren’t safe from potential ransomware attacks-which are particularly dangerous because cybercriminals hold your valuable information hostage and there is no guarantee you’ll get it back.

But there are ways to keep your business safe. It is critical to understand the risks and train your employees on what their responsibilities are for protecting information and responding to an attack. And don’t forget to back up your files!

Reduce your risk with cybersecurity training.