My intended audience is companies that use computers to drive their operations. Essentially, close to all companies are using computers and computer programs. With the rise of technology, cyber security issues have gone up, one of them being ransomware. The topic is essential to this audience because they will understand the effects of ransomware and why understanding it in various aspects could save them.
Cybercriminals are all over, most of which earn by threatening companies to pay a ransom or attack their operations. Technology-oriented companies are at a greater risk of cyber-related attacks. That is why they are expected to pay a ransom to protect cybercriminals from attacking their systems. However, as much as most companies find paying a ransom cheap and easier than recovering attacked data, law enforcement discourages the payment of ransoms. This is because it provides the criminals with funds to do more criminal activities, encouraging it. Besides, it is illegal to pay a ransom in some cases, as it provides the criminals with funds. Despite that, the companies that use technology are at risk if they do not pay the ransom. This presentation argues understanding how ransomware occurs, who causes it, how to prevent it, and how to deal with it in case it occurs could protect companies’ data and, ultimately, their businesses. It would help them avoid disruption of operations, financial losses, and reputational damages.
A Preview of the Main Points
Disruption of business operations
Despite efforts to combat criminal activities, the activities are increasing daily. Cybercriminals are inventing new ways to attack computer users, and the advancement of technology mainly contributes to this. The first ransomware prototype occurred in 1989. It was estimated that ransomware would occur every eleven seconds by 2021 (Desai, 2018). This means that as technology advances, so do cyber-attacks. It is, therefore, crucial for companies seeking to use technology to understand ransomware and the effects it could have on their businesses. By understanding what adverse effects of ransomware could have on their businesses, companies could take action to avoid the effects. The importance of understanding ransomware is that companies will avoid the presentation’s effects. The image below shows an example of a ransomware attack.
Figure 1: Example of a ransomware attack (Bing images)
Disruption of Business Operations
When a company incorporates technology, the main agenda is to enhance its business operations through technology. Mainly, most of them incorporate technology to keep operations moving and make them accessible and quick. Studies have shown that technology is fast and efficient (Fang et al., 2019). Thus companies enjoy fast and efficient operations. Besides, technology replaces a lot of work that humans would do. For example, by using a computer, a nurse could do a lot of work that could have been done by three of them because a computer is fast and efficient.
When cybercriminals cause ransomware to a company’s system, the operations stop. It could have a profound impact on operations and even last for a few days until the company pays a ransom to prevent the attackers from attacking its systems. When the system is attacked, which the company depends on to operate, the operations are ceased. If a hospital depends on computers to treat patients and the attackers attack the hospital’s system, the hospital has to pay to cease operations. However, sometimes it is hard to detect ransomware as attackers could use different means. For example, they could deploy it by sending phishing emails to the public, software lapses, or remote desktop control. Thus, the hospital might not understand that ransomware or a cyber-attack has occurred, and operations will already have stopped before it realizes it.
In that case, when companies understand that ransomware could halt operations, they will try to avoid it through various means by ensuring their data is encrypted. Additionally, since they understand that ransomware is an attack by cybercriminals, they will know how to deal with them for the sake of the business’s operations. On the contrary, if they do not understand that a system breakdown could mean ransomware, it might be hard to identify the problem, which could halt operations for a long time. Thus, companies must understand that paying a ransom despite being a criminal attack is vital to avoid disruption of business operations.
Understanding ransomware saves companies from financial losses. This is because ransomware could lose a lot of money, and if a company does not understand how to deal with it, it could suffer financial losses. For example, when operations are halted, and computers cease to work, an organization might think that it is a system breakdown going to the extent of buying new computers or replacing them with new hardware or software. By this, it could use a lot of money not knowing that it is an attack or ransomware, resulting in big financial losses. Additionally, paying a ransom could lead to financial draining.
However, if companies understand ransomware, for instance, how it occurs, its causes, and how to deal with it, they might not suffer from financial losses. For instance, by understanding that ransomware has attacked their computers, companies can just pay directly to avoid further financial losses. It is because the more they argue with the cyber attackers, the more they halt their operations for long, and the more they lose money. Halting operations could also lead to other financial losses; if the operations involve a process, the halting of the process could lead to financial losses (Kopp et al., 2017).
Understanding about ransomware could save companies from reputational damages. In most cases, attackers target big or high profile organizations with positive reputations. When the organizations are faced with ransomware, they reveal the information to the public so that the public can take care, and in case the attackers send emails, they can be aware that it is a ransomware attack. When they inform their customers that they have suffered a ransomware attack, it sends an adverse reaction to customers in that some might lose trust in the company. Alternatively, attackers could send emails through phishing to customers, which could tarnish the company’s name.
However, understanding that ransomware can occur and how it occurs enables a company to avoid it, preventing reputational damage. Reputational damage is dangerous as it could lead to the failure of a business (Shim & Yang, 2016). Most people want to do business with companies with robust cyber security as they trust them with personal information.
Companies must understand about ransomware as it saves them from disruption of operations, financial losses, and reputational damages. Based on the discussion, cyber attackers often attack computer systems and demand a ransom of money from operators by threatening them. However, when companies understand how ransomware occurs, signs that it is ransomware and not any other problem and how to deal with it could save them considerably. Most importantly, they should understand that cyber-attacks are increasing with the advancement of technology and that being hesitant toward attackers could lead to more losses. With that, paying a ransom amount of money of what the attackers ask is crucial in saving companies from the adverse effects of ransomware, such as reputational damage, financial losses, and disruption of losses.
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Desai, S. (2018, August 14). Impact of ransomware. DeltaNet International: Online Compliance & Health and Safety Training | DeltaNet. https://www.delta-net.com/compliance/cyber-security/faqs/impact-of-ransomware#:~:text
Fang, W., Xu, M., Zhu, C., Han, W., Zhang, W., & Rodrigues, J. J. (2019). FETMS: Fast and efficient trust management scheme for information-centric networking in the Internet of things. IEEE Access, 7, 13476-13485. https://doi.org/10.1109/access.2019.2892712
Kopp, E., Kaffenberger, L., & Wilson, C. (2017). Cyber risk, market failures, and financial stability. International Monetary Fund.
Shim, K., & Yang, S. (2016). The effect of bad reputation: The occurrence of crisis, corporate social responsibility, and perceptions of hypocrisy and attitudes toward a company. Public Relations Review, 42(1), 68-78. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pubrev.2015.11.009