Wisdom Wednesday: The Hidden Costs Of Malware
Ransomware is malware that either freezes your computer or locks it so you cannot access data and programs that your company normally uses. The criminal that is holding your system hostage, demands a ransom that is usually paid in Bitcoin.
Imagine opening your business one morning, turning your computer on and reading a message that says something like: Attention – Your System is Locked. If you want your data and programs unlocked, you must pay a fee of $800. If you are a new business or a small one, $800 can be a lot of money. It is in effect a ransom payment and is the harbinger that your computer is a victim of ransomware.
What is Ransomware/Malware?
Ransomware is malware that either freezes your computer or locks it so you cannot access data and programs that your company typically uses. The criminal that is holding your system hostage, demands a ransom that is usually paid in Bitcoin. One thing about this kind of criminal is they believe in excellent customer service. Instructions are sent you about how to pay in Bitcoin. Also, the thief or gang of thieves usually do return your computer back over to you – otherwise, most people would not bother to pay the ransom.
However, the ransom is only the beginning of your expenses relating to a ransomware incident involving your business.
What Are the Other Costs of Ransomware?
In 2016, the average cost of paying a ransom demand involving accessing a business’ computer programs and data was $679. It is expected to rise in 2017 to nearly $800. But, that is not the only, nor necessarily, the greatest expense. The other costs attendant to ransomware include:
It is the duty of every business to safeguard the Personal Financial Information (PFI) and Personal Identifying Information (PII) of clients and customers. Regulatory authorities such as the US Department of Health and Human Services (HIPAA compliance) or the Federal Trade Commission for letting PII fall victim to a ransomware attack. Fines can be high (millions of dollars) but are usually not levied if there had been no other prior issues regarding confidentiality. For those firms who had previous breaches, fines can quickly add up to millions of dollars.
A Lack of Productivity
When a computer system is unreachable, your employees are undergoing downtime. Without your business data and programs, they are unable to work and are simply nothing more than another expense due to ransomware. Depending on the size of your workforce is how much this costs. A research study by the firm Vanson Bourne for SentinelOne reveals that it takes 38 man hours to recover from a ransomware attack.
Loss of Customers/Lack of New Customers
When a company is victimized by a ransomware attack, most states require that anyone whose data may have been breached must be advised of the possible breach. Doing so may lead to customers leaving you for another company. Likewise, it is harder to find new clients or customers.
Loss of Employees/Inability to Hire Top Applicants
The situation is similar when it comes to employee retention and new hires – employees want to know their employer has an excellent reputation that is unsullied by a successful ransomware attack.
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