Ransomware Protection for Different Industry Verticals in 2024

Date: 27 February 2024

In the contemporary digital environment, cybercriminals can steal valuable data, assets, or even financial resources in a matter of minutes. The good new is that mechanisms for defence against their nefarious activities do exist and we must be aware of them. Individuals and organisations can fortify their cyber defences using antivirus software and firewalls, among other security measures.

However, the effective deployment of these protective strategies often necessitates a foundational understanding of technology and their application within specific industries. 

One of the most prominent threats in the cyber landscape today is ransomware. With millions of ransomware incidents reported annually, it is clear that this form of malware represents a serious and damaging threat. 

In this article, we delve into the specifics of ransomware and identify the industries that are particularly vulnerable and should, therefore, exercise heightened vigilance. 

cyber tabletop scenarios

Ransomware: An Overview

Ransomware is a type of cryptographic malware that effectively takes a computer or server hostage by encrypting its data, thereby rendering it inaccessible to the user.

Victims are then presented with a demand for payment—often in cryptocurrency—in exchange for a decryption key to regain access to their encrypted data. This digital extortion technique not only disrupts operations but also poses a significant financial threat to affected entities. 

To make this attack possible, ransomware uses asymmetric encryption, which generates a pair of keys. Once the victim makes a payment, they receive the private key that they can use to unlock their data. 

Without the hacker giving you the private key, it’s almost impossible to decrypt your data. Ransomware is spread in various ways. There are targeted campaigns that operate through emails. Furthermore, you can become a victim of this malware if you’re pirating software or downloading executables from phishing websites. 

Ransomware often requires the individual to pay within a limited time, or they threaten to delete your data. Paying isn’t effective when dealing with ransomware. Besides hacker’s goodwill, nothing obliges them from saving your data. 

Some ransomware isn’t maintained or tracked by the person who decided to use it. If this is the case, making a payment won’t save your data.
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Industries most Vulnerable to Ransomware Attacks

While the categories listed below are highly vulnerable, this list is incomplete. These examples should serve as a guide, giving you an idea of where vulnerabilities come from and whether they are similar to what your organisation may face. 

Logistics and transportation

 Whether you’re working with a whole fleet or a single vehicle, there are a lot of systems and individuals involved in any logistics business. Companies in logistics have employees who handle various computer-related and communication tasks. 

From sending a work order template for fleet maintenance to getting permits from the country you’re operating in, highly sensitive information is involved. A ransomware attack can lead to a significant setback in your operations. 

Imagine if you lose information such as vehicle license plates and contacts of suppliers, warehouses, or clients. Losing your data to a hacker can also compromise other individuals involved in the business. 

Logistics companies must pay attention to defence against malware, as it can potentially endanger drivers' lives. 

Marketing

Compared to logistic businesses, marketing companies can’t endanger someone’s life on the road. On the other hand, marketing businesses operate with a vast amount of information that can be misused. 

If you’ve been collecting user data in compliant ways and improving your services, that’s great. Whether you’ve been using other marketing software or Google Analytics, storing and protecting information is just an important part of compliance. 

Adhering to Google Analytics GDPR or other regional documents, such as CCPA or PIPEDA, requires you to be extra careful with data storage. A ransomware attack can lead to a vast amount of data being lost or accessed by unauthorized individuals. 

Although you won’t be directly responsible for the ransomware attack, you will be the one who will suffer consequences. A ransomware attack targeting a marketing company can lead to you having to pay hefty fines. 

Furthermore, this can lead to a significant blow to your reputation, creating lowered trust by customers and clients. 

Software development

While software development companies don’t collect data like marketing companies, they are still quite vulnerable. The majority of processes that software development companies have are digital.

Developing an application requires the synonyms work of a whole team of developers. Many software developers use cloud-based solutions to store information, while others have their own servers. 

If the software development company's system gets infected by ransomware, this can lead to a full stop in all the processes. Developers won’t be able to access shared or private resources, and working on the projects would become impossible.

In the case of an already established company that’s maintaining a specific software, they can also collect data from users. Again, this can lead to severe fines from regulatory bodies.  

Healthcare 

Whether we’re talking about private or public businesses, healthcare often includes having large systems and vast amounts of data. There are numerous reasons why healthcare institutions need to gather information about their patients.  

Medical history, allergies, and visits to the doctor all play a crucial role in the quality of services that healthcare institutions can offer. However, their workforce isn’t expected to have advanced tech knowledge. 

It’s quite important to have cybersecurity measures as a healthcare company, as you’re vulnerable in multiple ways. Firstly, losing patient data can lead to fines much more significant than the ones a marketing company could suffer. 

On the other hand, having unavailable systems or losing patient data is a serious problem for the patients. Healthcare workers don’t have to have extensive tech knowledge, but there should be strong measures against various types of malware. 

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How to protect & defend against ransomware

For the question, “Is there a one-size-fits-all solution?” the answer is unclear. There’s no better defence against any type of malware than the common sense of the employee or the individual. However, people whose roles aren’t necessarily tech-related don’t have to know the cybersecurity protocols to work their roles effectively. 

In this situation, it’s crucial to have strong cybersecurity measures that will protect both your employees and the system. One of the ways that you can ensure this is through implementing strong authentication protocols for individual employees. 

On the other hand, if your company touches ground with tech, training your employees can be a good idea. Corporations often make regular checks of their systems to ensure whether there are security gaps. 

A cybersecurity expert who will help you maintain your shields can be of significant importance to the company. They can help you with evaluating your network security and assess the risks of ransomware. Furthermore, cybersecurity experts can also help you with other security risks besides extreme cases such as ransomware. 

The last line of defence is an activity that should be regularly practiced anyway. This is doing regular backups. In case of a ransomware attack, regular backups can help you return information that was lost and help you avoid paying ransomware. 

However, preventing the attack altogether is always best rather than risking. 

Cyber Tabletop Exercise Template

Protecting against ransomware is essential for businesses in 2024 

We all like to believe that we aren’t be the ones unlucky enough to get hacked or download harmful malware. Many people believe that they have a strong enough defence against malware, while others are simply clueless about the dangers of the internet. 

Training your staff to recognize malware can be crucial if you're a business owner. A single individual can lead to having your whole business in a troublesome situation. Losing data or paying a significant amount can be a severe problem for the business. 

Even if you’re a casual internet user, you should know how to spot suspicious files and websites. Ransomware is one of the worst types of malware that you can find on the internet.

About Writer

Veljko is an information technology student who paired his passion for technology with his writing skills. He is an emerging specialist in cybersecurity, having completed courses in the field and written for popular blogs in the industry. His hobbies include weightlifting, reading history, and classic literature. 

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