Ransomware has crippled the workflows of municipalities across the world in 2019, with many major cities victims of these cyber-attacks. Authorities believe a single source is responsible for a coordinated ransomware attack that targeted 22 local governments demanding they pay ransoms of hundreds of thousands of dollars to restore access to their computer systems.

Unfortunately, ransomware is not limited to government entities as targets. In fact, small businesses face a much bigger threat, as they are the primary targets of these attacks. 71 percent of ransomware attacks in 2018 targeted small businesses, with an average ransom demand of $116,000. Most small- and medium-sized businesses are ill-equipped to defend themselves from these threats.

Ransomware can be combated, but it takes diligence on the part of an organisation. First, employees should be educated about the threat of ransomware and how to detect and avoid falling victim to phishing emails. Second, IT security measures—such as internal firewalls, two-factor authentication, and regular software updates—should be employed to help mitigate risks. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, regularly backup your data. If hackers do get past your defences and encrypt your data, having a copy of your data will minimise the damage done and prevent you from having to pay the ransom to regain access to your files.