Ransomware, the sophisticated extortion of the decade. How do we reduce the risks?

If hackers taking hostage official documents of a city, a hospital or a company to paralyze them and demand ransom is no longer science fiction, large French and foreign institutions are regularly targeted and have been for about ten years. These attacks, called Ransomwares, have become commonplace and it is still difficult, today, to completely avoid them.

The principle of these cyber-attacks is simple: hackers break into computer systems to encrypt all the files on them in order to make them unusable. These encrypted files have the effect of paralyzing the activities of these organizations. Once these files are encrypted, hackers offer a key to unlock them in exchange for a large ransom.

Huge cost

In France and abroad, many companies (Bouygues Construction, Saint-Gobain, Groupe M6, Pathé cinemas, Facebook, Airbus, etc.) and public institutions (town halls, hospitals, etc.) are victims. The financial losses for these targeted organizations are very significant (economic activity in slow motion, cost of restoring files, loss of several thousand working hours, tarnished corporate image, increased spending on IT security…). A study carried out by the SystemX Technological Research Institute and published on June 25, 2020, last estimated that the added cost of cryptovirus attacks affecting VSBs/SMEs amounts to more than 700 million euros per year in France.

Solutions exist

While some organizations alert the authorities, others opt for the payment of the ransom demanded when there are solutions to limit the consequences of these Ransomwares. A good governance of identities and accesses of the information system allows, for example, to significantly reduce the exposure to the risk of these cryptoviruses. If a single user in a company is affected by a virus even though his rights allow him access to many files he does not need to work with, thousands of files are unnecessarily affected. Controlled identity and access management does not prevent ransomware attacks, but on the other hand, it does limit the entry points for this type of devastating virus and is one of the indispensable bulwarks in a more global defense solution.

With nearly 7 out of 10 companies affected in 2018 in France, the ransomware phenomenon is on the rise. Companies now have no choice but to take technological measures and train their employees to preserve their activities.

Tribune written by Bertrand Augé and Arnaud Fléchard, respectively CEO and CTO of Kleverware.

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