Welcome to “In Security,” the new biweekly web comic that takes a lighter look at the dark wave of threats crashing across business networks, endpoints, data and users. Click here for an introduction to the team.

What Is Ransomware?

Ransomware. While our friends at EveryApp manage to make it a laughing matter, the $209 million paid out to black hats in just the first three months of 2016 is nothing to scoff at.

This form of cryptovirology essentially says “stick ’em up” to unlock access to machines and vital data that has been scrambled by the bad guys. Organizations are reluctant to open their checkbooks to unlock the stolen goods, and for good reason. Less than half of ransomware victims fully recover their data even if they pay up. This is especially dangerous business when the data in question involves medical records or financial information.

Although ransomware has been a part of the threat landscape since 1996, it skyrocketed exponentially over the past few years. This has many organizations reeling, trying to figure out how to combat these attacks or, better yet, establish a proactive approach to thwarting these vexing vectors before they have a chance to garble gigs of precious data.

Illustrations by Nathan Salla

A Silent Danger

While ransomware has grown rapidly, it still represents an infinitesimal percentage of problems plaguing corporate systems. Although the attack strategies are generally more benign, malware and spyware still account for more than 96 percent of corporate data loss. They are a silent danger, stealing data and slowing systems over time as opposed to a one-and-done denial of service.

Also on the side of angels are companies ready to combat what experts expect to become a billion-dollar crime wave in the next few years.

Keeping Ransomware at Bay

Sadly, companies are most often attacked by insider threats. This doesn’t mean employees are making backroom deals with the mafia of the new millennium; they are simply rendering their organizations susceptible to attack, often unknowingly, through the course of daily business. Ransomware is still most often spread using malicious email links, followed by apocalyptic app downloads.

Education is key. CISOs and IT leaders should inform employees on best practices for endpoint management. They should also implement solutions to protect safe productivity and keep ransomware at bay.

Let us get you started on this lesson with IBM Security’s Ransomware Response Guide to help you get ahead of EveryApp and keep your black card in your wallet where it belongs.

Download the complete Ransomware Response Guide

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