Have You Ever Considered What a Ransomware Attack Actually Does to Your Business?

Have You Ever Considered What a Ransomware Attack Actually Does to Your Business?

Last week, we discussed the many impacts your business suffering from ransomware has on “second-order harm,” downstream businesses, and average, ordinary people. This time, we wanted to return to “first-order harms”… those the impacted business has to deal with itself.

Obviously, the First Place Ransomware Hurts is the Business

When we last discussed the impacts of ransomware, we skipped over the immediate impact on the infected business and focused on the impact on their associates and customers. While this is definitely an impacted group that should be focused on more, we cannot say that the business escapes unscathed.

  • 45% of surveyed businesses experienced a ransomware attack in the last year.
  • Last year saw a sharp increase in ransom demands, the average reaching $1.5 million.
  • Ransomware attacks have become more layered—triple extortion now encrypting data, leaking data, and informing an infected business’ customers—to wear down a victim and help secure payment.
  • With many large ransomware groups being disbanded, the expectation is that many smaller-scale attackers will use their tools… and some are bound to target businesses.

Damages Experienced By the Business are Known as a “First-Order Harm”

As we’ve said, first-order harms caused by ransomware were defined by the UK think tank Royal United Services in The Scourge of Ransomware as “harms to the organisations and staff directly targeted by ransomware.” The full list of harms, determined by their degree of removal from the initial attack, is as follows:

  1. First-Order Harms directly impacted the business that was attacked and its staff.
  2. Second-Order Harms impacted organizations downstream from the attacked business as well as the individuals who relied on or trusted the attacked business.
  3. Third-Order Harms impacted entire societies, organizations, and governments through all the ransomware incidents the collective experienced on an economic and security-based level.

As we said last time, the paper is a really interesting read, and we recommend it. Here, we’ve summarized some of the damages that ransomware can cause to the businesses of the first order.

How Does Ransomware Cause First-Order Harms?

Unlike the second-order harms, first-order harms are the ones you’re likely too familiar with and rightfully concerned about. That being said, The Scourge of Ransomware provides an unpleasant reminder:

“While general reporting on ransomware harms often focuses on the immediate financial harm, for example, when media reporting stresses the size of a ransomware payment, the research data indicates that the range of harm experienced by the victim organisation is much broader.”

For those who know a little bit about ransomware, this will be more or less a review of the impacts your business could face. However, we’ll also touch on those that often go unappreciated when ransomware is discussed: the impacts your team members will likely experience on a personal level.

Of course, ransomware has many hallmark impacts on businesses. Data, from operational to backup, can be encrypted, corrupted, stolen, leaked, and/or destroyed. There are also the various financial harms that an affected business has to deal with, from all the additional costs that ransomware inflicts to the fact that ransomware tends to alienate your audience and otherwise damage your reputation and, thereby, your earning potential. This is only exacerbated by the fact that your whole team will be all hands on deck to fix the problem, not necessarily earning for your business.

However, this team will not escape a ransomware attack unscathed, either. The stress and worry that their understandable lack of faith in their job security will take its toll (especially if their actions played some role in letting the ransomware in) can develop into shame, resignation, and potentially much worse. It can also have negative physical effects, such as sleep deprivation, burnout, and, at the extreme, hospitalization.

Financially, your team will suffer as well, as there likely won’t be the money to pay them, and there’s a considerable chance that many will lose their jobs due to your business’ aforementioned financial problems. Once these jobs are lost, they’ll likely have difficulty finding new employment and perhaps even strain at home.

Imagine if you (or perhaps worse, someone else in the office) let a ransomware attack take root, and the business—like many do—ultimately failed. Could you forgive whomever was responsible, especially if it was your doing? What if that person could no longer be forgiven?

As you can see, this is really bad.

Don’t Risk the Welfare of Your Business or Its Team

Ransomware is notorious for being tricky to catch, let alone recover from… but that won’t stop us from doing everything we can to help prevent it and its repercussions, as we established last time. Again, we recommend you share this blog—and again, The Scourge of Ransomware—with your team members so they understand how serious it is that they work to spot potential ransomware and other cyberattacks.

We’d love to help, so please reach out at (603) 889-0800 to discuss how to get started working with us to avoid these impacts.

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