The world also saw an alarming 105% surge in ransomware cyberattacks last year according to the 2022 Cyber Threat Report released by SonicWall, an internet cybersecurity company.
The attacks, according to the report, were designed to cripple people or businesses by making their computer systems unusable until they pay money or “ransom.”
“Ransomware operators are profit driven,” Dmitriy Ayrapetov, the VP of platform architecture at SonicWall, was quoted as saying. “As long as there is a profit they will continue to bring in new players, actors, etc. And of course, on the other side, a lack of security or a lack of preparation allows for this to continue.”
Last year, ransomware attacks hit supply chains, causing widespread system downtime, economic loss, and reputational damage, according to the report.
One simple solution to prevent ransomware attacks is to diligently “patch” and keep your software up-to-date. Patching is when you update your computer software regularly.
“Everything that everybody uses today in the digital economy and digital society is software. All software has ongoing updates that can be applied,” Ayrapetov told Fortune. “When you run an old version of infrastructure software, that in our industry means that they haven’t patched. The majority of those releases are security updates. So when people put off patching, they’re really priming themselves to be soft targets for hackers on the internet.”
Acquaint yourself with CISA guides
Ayrapetov recommends familiarizing yourself with the the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) guides against ransomware attacks, which he calls “definitive sources for malware prevention.”
The agency’s guide breaks down how to create cyber incident response plans and also recommends regular vulnerability scanning on internet-facing devices.
The majority of small-business owners are not worried about being the victim of a cyberattack, with 56% stating they are not concerned about being the victim of a hack in the next 12 months, according to a 2021 CNBC Momentive Q3 Small Business Survey. And 24% said they were “not concerned at all.”
This false sense of protection from cyberattacks does not match the rise in malicious digital events that Americans are facing, according to Ayrapetov, who is emphatic that cyberattacks are universal and that everyone is vulnerable.
“By having an online presence by doing things online, everybody from individuals to organizations are automatically in the cybersecurity discussion,” Ayrapetov told Fortune. “It’s something that should be woven into the fabric of every organization and not as an add-on or an afterthought. Hackers will continue to attack the most important asset, which is data, and everyone needs to take steps to be proactive.”