Why Encryption Alone Cannot Resolve Ransomware Attacks
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Ransomware attacks have become a matter of huge concern for IT security leaders. Especially with recent studies showing ransomware will cost the global economy $265 billion per year by 2031, with a new attack happening every 2 seconds.

Large cyber insurance providers are declining to offer coverage for ransomware attacks because it is too risky. Insurers want organizations to first demonstrate compliance and make sure they have a secure data system in place, as well as put strict security measures in place.

A ransom paid doesn’t necessarily guarantee the return of a company’s data. A study noted that only 8% of victims were able to retrieve their data after paying a ransom, while nearly a third reported that they were unable to recover more than half of their data.

For years, ransomware has been a threat to businesses. However, these companies are fighting back with newer tactics and tricks. Things like improving employee awareness of phishing attempts, using end-to-end encryption, and so on. These new countermeasures have been key in slowing or even stopping traditional ransomware attacks in many cases.

Encryption of data remains one of the primary strategies for keeping sensitive data secure. So encryption is important, but should it be the sole method? Could it just provide a false sense of security in the event your organization gets ransomware hit?

Why Encryption Alone Cannot Resolve Ransomware Attacks?

One way that companies protect themselves against ransomware issues is by encrypting sensitive data and backing it up across multiple locations. However, one of the first things the latest strains of ransomware will do upon execution is identified the location of your backup systems and before doing anything more, they’ll encrypt the backup files.

One way to extort a victim for money is by disabling their backup data. This leaves the victim unable to restore their data if they don’t pay the ransom, which gives the attacker significant leverage when negotiating a payment.

With ransomware attacks on the rise, it’s important for both business and IT leaders to understand encryption limitations. We have explained these briefly as follows:

1. Strong encryption 

While encryption is an important step, it can only slow a ransomware attack after it’s already occurred. Encryption alone does not protect a system from a ransomware attack, and it’s important to keep this in mind as more data is lost as a result of these attacks. Encryption also doesn’t actually reconstruct data; when a key or data set is lost, that information will be permanently lost.

2. Commercial encryption

The encrypted information is difficult to translate, but if you have enough time and resources, it’s possible to crack the code for decoding. Organizations that need high-level security, like those in government, banking, or healthcare, may not feel safe with encryption alone because once quantum computing becomes a reality; there’s no stopping brute force encryption cracking.

Security analysts are warning that nation-states will take a long horizon approach and try to target encrypted data stores with the goal of using quantum technologies to decrypt them in the future.

3. Encryption is Immune to Human Errors

Cybersecurity firms may discourage you from using encryption. It’s true, few data breaches are caused by the encryption itself being defeated, but there’s still a commonly held belief that as long as all your data is fully encrypted, you’re safe. However, that presumption could lead to complacency and a dangerously false sense of security. Just like your house or car keys, encryption keys can be lost or misplaced, rendering even the most robust encryption meaningless.

If security is an aspect of your business, chances are you understand how important hardware and software are in fighting hackers. But humans, too often the weakest link in the security kill chain, cause the most damage when they’re hacked because they make basic mistakes that put data at risk.

Encryption isn’t foolproof because it can be “cracked” by someone with a personal grudge. After all, they don’t need to break the encryption itself, they just need to compromise the credentials of those who have access to the encrypted data.

Data protection is becoming a more difficult and complicated area. Organizations that are entrusted with sensitive data, like those using LTO backup tape systems or any other important data, are seeking new strategies to supplement and improve their security. You need to adopt defense-in-depth techniques to make sure your data is safe from risks. Having the right technology solutions in place, such as LTO tape drive backup software, is only part of the puzzle. It’s also essential that you equip your employees with the resources they need to make educated decisions about protecting their assets.

Cybercriminals will continue to employ ransomware attacks, so long as they have the resources and motivation. As we’ve seen these past few years, targeting sensitive data is the most effective way to drive profits.

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