How to Protect Your Business from Ransomware Attacks
Ransomware is one of the fastest growing cyber threats in the world. Ransomware attacks increased by 41% in 2019, with 205,280 enterprises losing access to their files. Unfortunately, cyber criminals are finding new ways to launch ransomware attacks, making it difficult to stop them.
They are also targeting small-and-medium-scale businesses, not just multinationals and government organizations. SMBs often pay little or no attention to their cybersecurity measures, making them more vulnerable to ransomware threats. However, with the cost of average ransomware payout reaching $8100 in 2020, no business owners can ignore these cyber threats anymore.
What Is Ransomware?
Ransomware is a type of malware, which holds your computer or servers hostage using a malicious code, unless you pay the ransom amount. The perpetrators usually threaten to “delete all the files” or “corrupt the data” or “permanently deny device or data access” if the ransom is not paid. It essentially freezes your computer devices or IT network.
Sadly, in many cases, even after the ransom is paid, it takes weeks or months to get the compromised computer network back to normal. WannaCry is perhaps the most infamous ransomware attack so far. However, other types of ransomwares like Ryuk, Bad Rabbit, and Locky are equally prevalent.
How to Protect Your Business from Ransomware
If you care about your network & cyber security, you need to take a few precautions to thwart potential ransomware attacks.
Here’s what you can do.
- Train Your Employees
The first thing you need to do is train and educate your employees to ensure safe practices. For example, you can make your employees aware of phishing emails, which is one of the most common ways to embed rogue executable programs into your network.
Weak passwords are also a gateway for cybercriminals to launch a ransomware attack or even embed a virus into your IT network. Make sure to train your employees to create and use unique, alphanumeric, and long passwords for all company-related and even personal logins.
Educate your employees to not open unsecure websites from the office network. If you are opening a website for the first time, make sure the URL begins with “https.” You can simply hover over a link to check it for validity.
- Update Your Operating System
The importance of regular system updates can’t be stressed enough. Cyber criminals are known to exploit vulnerabilities in a targeted network system to launch a ransomware attack. Regular updates, however, ensure to patch security vulnerabilities before they fall into the wrong hands.
In most cases, software vendors offer automated updates. Make sure to turn them on. You should also have your IT manager run vulnerability scans regularly to identify any security risks or outdated applications. If you find any, update them or replace them with the latest versions immediately.
Regular updates should extend to all devices. For example, if your employees are accessing office email from their personal phones or tablets, ask them to keep those updated and secured as well. It is, however, best to not allow your employees to access business networks from outside of authorized devices.
- Data Backup and Recovery
Regular data backup and recovery are necessary to keep your data and information safe in the event of a security breach or ransomware attack. The best way is to have a cloud backup of all your data, applications, and information. If required, you can also have multiple cloud backups. Most cloud backups are automated.
In addition, it is advisable to have offline data backups. You can store important data on a different device or a hard drive. However, you will need to copy and archive computer data to other devices manually. In either case, it is better to create a data backup schedule.
In some local data recovery options, if your system supports it, the local backup device can set up a Virtual Machine right away. Thus, if your primary device is compromised during a ransomware or any other cyberattack, you can start using all your applications from the device itself.
On the other hand, recovering cloud backup will require you to download the data from the cloud to your device. It will take some time as you may need to download gigabytes or terabytes of data. Of course, your cloud service provider can also offer a Virtual Machine right in the cloud, allowing you to start working immediately.
- Verify Email Requests
As a leading managed IT Company in Westfield, MA, we always ask our clients to pay extra attention to incoming email requests. Most phishing attacks (precursor to a potential ransomware attack) will acquire personal information to pose as a trustworthy person or entity.
Acting on such email requests, like opening the link or downloading an attachment, can infect your device or system. That’s why it is extremely necessary to double-check or verify such email requests.
You can use the multi-factor verification process to ensure the authenticity of an email request. You can also use email address verification tools available online to verify email addresses.
If an email request seems suspicious, you should immediately contact the concerned person to verify if they actually sent the email. Ask you employees to never open any suspicious or shady-looking emails.
- Endpoint Protection with AI
Any odd or out-of-the-ordinary user behavior can be a sign of a potential ransomware attack. That’s why having next generation end-point security solutions based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning should be a part of your cyber security.
With this security solution, you can analyze your entire system in real-time to detect any unusual system or user behavior. AI and machine learning can create a risk assessment pattern by studying previous behaviors like login timings, user devices, geolocations, and accessibility levels, among others.
Most importantly, as this solution is AI-based, it can continuously adapt new risk assessment methods by learning from previous threats, offering you enhanced and self-evolving protection. This next-generation threat analysis will not only protect you from ransomware attacks, but also viruses, malware, email phishing, and data breaches.
Given the far-reaching consequences of a ransomware attack, businesses, whether small or big, need to take cyber security more seriously. Hopefully, after learning about these five ways to thwart ransomware attacks, you will be able to protect your business more actively. Of course, you can consult an experienced and professional IT Company in Westfield, MA, like ours to get the best protection against ransomware. Contact us today to know how we can help. And yes, feel free to share your feedback or doubts in the comments section.
Marco is the owner and founder of NetLogix, Inc. a Managed IT Security Services firm that has been helping small businesses by providing an innovative and unique blend of managed IT services throughout New England with expertise in Insurance, Legal, Medical & Professional Services. Learn more about Marco and NetLogix here.