Cyberattacks on Canadian businesses have been steadily increasing over the past couple of years, with 82% of Canadian businesses reporting an increase in cyberattacks over the last 12 months. The use of ransomware by cybercriminals to target businesses, and even local governments, is increasing.

What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a form of malware that is designed to block access to a computer system, denying users access to their data until a sum of money is paid. One of the most common delivery systems is a phishing spam — attachments that come to the victim in an email, masquerading as a file they should trust. Once downloaded and opened, the attacker can take over the victim’s computer and systems.

Once the user’s files are encrypted, they can usually only be decrypted with a mathematical key known only by the attacker. The user’s computer will often display instructions on how to pay a fee, often in Bitcoin, in order to obtain the decryption key. For small business owners, it is not necessarily the ransom money that hurts the most; it is the hours and hours of downtime, which can have serious financial repercussions to their companies.

Just the Facts

How can you protect your business from ransomware attacks?

  • Keep your operating systems and applications up-to-date. Software updates often include important security patches to reduce vulnerabilities in your systems.
  • Don’t install software or give it administrative privileges unless you know exactly what it is and what it does.
  • Install reputable anti-virus and whitelisting software. Anti-virus software will detect harmful viruses or applications. Whitelisting software helps prevent unauthorized applications from running on your systems.
  • Create regular off-site backups of your files. While backups won’t prevent a ransomware attack, they can significantly reduce the damage. Off-site backups will remain viable even if your central server is compromised, allowing you to recover your data entirely.

While risk management strategies can reduce your chance of loss, it is important to ensure your business has the right level of insurance coverage in the event of a loss. Contact Western Financial Group Insurance Solutions to learn more about Cyber Liability Insurance.