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The Human/Tech Team-Up Against Ransomware

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Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, ransomware attacks have risen more than 400% in frequency.  The reasons for growth are clear.  In the era of remote work, businesses are using more software and networked devices than ever, exposing them to a wider array of vulnerabilities.  The advent of ransomware as a service has opened the door for less talented hackers to carry out successful cyber attacks.  Gangs provide their clients with easy to use malware in exchange for 20-30% of the ransom.  Most importantly, ransomware attacks are lucrative.  Businesses make multi-million dollar payouts to attackers, and law enforcement rarely pursues cyber criminals.  It’s the perfect storm for cyber crime.

As criminals thrive, legal businesses suffer.  The costs associated with cyber attacks is expected to reach over $20 billion in 2021.  75% of organizations will face attacks in the next 5 years.  Businesses are struggling to keep up with the growing threat against them.  The majority have an IT security budget of less than $10,000.  For perspective, the average recovery costs for a business victimized by ransomware in 2021 is $2 million.

The problem is even more dire for small and medium businesses (SMBs for short).  62% of SMBs lack in-house cybersecurity expertise.  There is a shortage of qualified experts out there, and those that do operate in the market offer their services to the highest bidder.  With the average annual salary of a cybersecurity engineer sitting at nearly $95,000, many businesses see such talent as sitting out of their reach.  Despite that, SMBs would still benefit from making a recovery plan.  6 in 10 SMBs don’t have a documented process for how to respond and recover in the event of a cyber attack.

Can software fill the gap?  Security companies are creating more advanced artificial intelligence algorithms every year.  Yet technology alone can’t deter motivated attackers.  Even as tech works wonders, it introduces new challenges.  Deploying, configuring, and maintaining cybersecurity technology is a job in itself.  69% of cybersecurity pros admit they aren’t leveraging their security portfolios to their full potential.  If they aren’t using software the best way they could be, what hope is there that tech amateurs can maximize their potential?  

Furthermore, AI solutions aren’t foolproof.  They often lead to an explosion of false positives and excessive alerts.  Every day, the average person received 63.5 notifications.  There are not enough hours in a day to work through all the alerts.  This is why human expertise is an important part of cybersecurity.  Trained analysts have an advantage when detecting and responding to ransomware.  They can understand context, relevance, and attack motivations in a way AI is not currently capable of doing. 

In an ever-expanding cyber attack landscape, businesses need the best in class technology to work alongside cybersecurity expertise.  People, processes, and technology must work together to keep operations safe.  The less time regular employees spend preventing a cyber attack, the more time they have free to do their intended jobs.  Everyone benefits that way.

CEO of Penske Media Group. Experienced Content Editor with a demonstrated history of working in the newspaper industry. Spoken on stages around the globe - NYU, US Embassy, P&G Toronto, and much more.

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