Ransomware a growing threat for IT professionals

October 9, 2014

More and more business is being done online, whether it's email, cloud computing or even just run of the mill web browsing. This move to virtual business solutions has been a boon to companies seeking to improve efficiency, productivity and cost cutting. Of course, even those at the earliest stages of their IT careers know that the benefits of virtual business solutions come with costs in the form of security and privacy concerns.

The number of threats to IT security are numerous and always evolving, taking on new forms and attacking different points of the IT infrastructure. One of today's emerging threats is known as ransomware. Ransomware is a type of malware that restricts users' access to their system or network. The attackers demand a cash ransom in return for relinquishing control and allowing the rightful users back into the system.

IT professionals newest headache
Until very recently, few IT professionals showed any concern about ransomware attacks and even fewer had heard of them. Over the course of 2014, IT has seen this style of attack become commonplace and professionals are adjusting their level of worry to the rising threat. IT Pro Portal reported that 88 percent of IT professionals say they are concerned about ransomware attacks on their infrastructure.

Two-thirds of IT professionals said that they believed that the rate of ransomware attacks will increase over the next year, and the same amount of people said that they personally know someone who has had to deal with this kind of attack.

Ransomware on the rise – IT must respond
The Register reported that CryptoLocker-style ransomware attacks have become distressingly common – they are up 700 percent this year over last year's incidence rate. The CryptoLocker attack scrambled files so they were inaccessible by the users until a payment was made to unscramble them.

While security firms have developed software that can crack the CryptoLocker without giving into the attackers, offshoots of the malware that can evade the security measures have proliferated.

IT Pro Portal found that many IT professionals are woefully unprepared to deal with ransomware. Only 31 percent said that they have a specific strategy in place with which they could deal with this type of attack. 9 percent of IT employees said that they would attempt to crack the encryption themselves, while 22 percent said they would call an encryption expert. 82 percent said that they would just wipe the device completely.

The most well-developed security measures cannot prevent every attack. That is why it's critical for IT departments to develop a strategy for dealing with them ahead of time.