Why Employees Are The Weakest Link In The Defense Against Ransomware

Parallel to the phishing attacks, ransomware is undoubtedly the most profitable and successful style of attack for the cyber terrorists. It is estimated that this attack cost targets nearly $1billion across the world. Instead of collecting the money, this bigger threat, leaving the company alone, few new alternatives are found to abolish the data as opposed to encipher with no ways of recovery. Uninformed and negligent employees can put the organizations in risk of ransomware. This situation leaves the organizations pondering what the next progression could bring. 

This attack comes with a far-reaching impact on the people and business. It is not just demanding the hard-earned money, but also the reputation as well as jobs. Ransomware possibly happened via phishing emails, which occurs by made the employees click the infected link, possibly a malevolent Microsoft Word file that enables the ransomware. This enforces to aware the fact, “Employees are the weakest link in the defense against ransomware”.

A report called, “The Rise of Ransomware” released by the Ponemon Institute also claimed that the employees are the weakest link that enables ransomware. They conducted the survey with 618 persons in the organizations who possess the responsibility for covering the infections of ransomware within their company. As per the report, here is the graph that depicts how confident that the employees can detect infections that result in ransomware attack.

Employee confidence

As shown in the graph, only 9% of persons are very confident and 20 % are confident that their workers can detect infections that could result in ransomware attack.

How Employees Place Companies At The Ransomware Infection Risk

Usually, ransomware enters into IT systems via phishing emails triggered by the employee. The important fact to consider here is that the most of the employees aren’t very well-versed in differentiating the legitimate emails from the fraud ones, which intends to inject malicious program onto their systems. The injection can be done by appending a call-to-action, making recipient to open an attachment, which includes a malware. If the malicious software or file gets installed onto the system, the malware starts to disable the function of the system and preventing the legitimate user from opening certain important files or from accessing those files.

Another way that causes the ransomware infection includes emails offering a URL, which recipients are prompted to click. Generally, the URL appears like a well-known and popular website. Hence, the recipients have no clue that there is something risk with the website. Once the URL is clicked, it will go to the malicious website and the malware is automatically installed on the computer. Once the malware gets installed, it includes the capability to spread across entire systems that it is linked to, thereby infecting as well as blocking the access to the whole network. 

Employee activity

With the reference to the report, “The Rise of Ransomware”, the following graph illustrates the activities of employees in an organization that possibly paves the way for the entry of ransomware attack:

60% of the employees using the third-party applications such as Slack, Dropbox, or Spotify on their business computers. 59% of employees used to click the link without ensuring its security for their personal use. 58% of employees are caught by social engineering or phishing scam, which appears like a legitimate business request. 57% of employees using their business computers to access their personal emails or social media accounts during working hours. 

How To Stop Employee’s Risky Behaviours To Prevent Ransomware

Entire organizations, regardless of size, should consider enhancing a data security culture to prevent from ransomware. Here are the three effective ways to make the employees to defenses against this attack. 

Training For IT Security Employees

1. Training

Offering employees with interactive training resources like webinars and seminars will benefit to support their own data security. Making employees more security savvy against the cyber threats can facilitate to defend the company’s information as well. 

2. Empowering

Communication from higher management level on the risk of cyber threats as well as the serious role every individual play in safeguarding the customers’ and business’ data. It is important to make the employees feel that cyber security is a threat to them. Encourage them to be vigilant as well as report issues to IT.

3. Incentivize

Incentivization or Gamification can really be the best way to solidify the security culture among the employees.  For example, implementing a scoring system for the employees who are reporting the doubtful emails to the security department. This approach can make every employee to carefully watch the security issues for the company. 

Hope you understand the risk of leaving the employees unaware about the ransomware attack. Take a step to make your employees aware of the risk and prevent them from leaving your organization vulnerable to the ransomware. It is the first step of defense.


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