Another week into Cybersecurity Awareness Month. As our adventure takes us further into the Wild, Wild Net, we’ve received word of another cyber bandit on the loose.
Have you crossed paths with ransomware before?
I hope you haven’t because ransomware creates big problems for small businesses.
According to IMB’s Security X-Force, 1 in 4 cyber-attacks this year are due to ransomware. Not to mention, the assaults on small businesses have been skyrocketing over consumers.
Because most small businesses have a low tolerance for downtime. A high uptime organization can lose thousands of dollars when their systems are down.
As a result, a small business is more likely to pay a ransom to regain access to data and resume operations.
Ransomware is no joke.
Today, we’re going to dive deep into ransomware to help you and your employees stay secure. Let’s begin.
What is Ransomware?
Before we get into how to prevent it, let’s clarify what ransomware is and how it works.
Ransomware is a type of malware that holds your data hostage and demands payment for its release.
Malware comes in many forms and disguises. It is a very tricky cybercriminal in the Wild, Wild Net. Variants of malware include viruses, worms, Trojan horses, and ransomware.
While there are many forms, malware boils down to one thing. It is malicious software invading your machine. The main purpose of malware is to steal money, data, access, and other valuable things.
Ransomware typically infiltrates a system with a phishing email or website infection. It does this by exploiting an existing endpoint vulnerability, like bad security education.
And once it establishes a foothold, ransomware expands to other endpoints. Its goal is to encrypt your organization’s entire network and hold it for ransom.
It is also unique because once it is in your environment, there are few remedies available. Of those options, they are costly and will cause huge business interruptions.
Your best bet against ransomware is to never get it in the first place.
How to Protect Your Business from Ransomware
It’s unlikely that ransomware attacks will slow down any time soon. Companies must remain vigilant if they want to protect themselves from ransomware attacks.
Here are MRW System’s top 5 tips on how to protect your small business against ransomware attacks. Please use these tips to keep your organization’s information safe:
We can’t celebrate Cybersecurity Awareness Month without education as our top priority.
Here’s the deal. Often, we can trace a ransomware attack back to poor employee cybersecurity practices. And in most cases, ransomware happens because of poor training around the subject.
Ransomware preys on a user’s inattentiveness. But here is the thing. Most small businesses rely on human vigilance to keep their system safe.
The first pillar of this education is the ability to spot a phishing email. That’s because often ransomware is delivered through such methods.
More so, your employees must know NOT to click on executable files or unknown links.
But being able to identify a phishing email is just the tip of the iceberg in awareness training.
Proper training should also teach employees about your company’s security policies.
A good security policy goes over the best practices that you expect employees to follow. These practices should include procedures for keeping employees, vendors, and customer information safe. Also, the policy should cover protocols that employees must follow in case there is a breach.
It’s significant to note that employee training is a continuous process. It is not a one and done kind of deal. Security training should occur every quarter. We also recommend sending out emails with security tips now and again.
Backup Your Systems, Locally & In the Cloud
This step can foil the most aggressive ransomware attacks.
First, it will keep your information backed up in a safe area that hackers cannot easily access. Second, if your system does get held hostage, you’ll likely be able to remedy the problem with your backup files.
Likewise, you shouldn’t just backup your local files. You should also have a backup for your data in the cloud. Cloud backups introduce redundancy and add an extra layer of protection.
And there should be multiple backups available just in case one got overwritten with encrypted ransomware.
Segment Your Network
All roads should not lead to Rome – or in this case company data. Your network should be separated into distinct zones, each requiring different credentials.
By segmenting your network, you effectively limit the amount of data an attacker can access. As a result, you help ensure that your entire network security is not compromised in a single attack.
All desktops, laptops, and mobile devices should be up to date. The same goes for all operating systems and applications. Why? Because updates help protect against the latest known threats.
And ransomware often relies on exploiting known vulnerabilities. This means that if you keep everything up to date, the chances of getting ransomware is significantly less.
To help manage all the updates, you need a patch management policy. A patch management policy covers the process for all updates within your network. These include patches for routers, firewalls, servers, operating systems, etc.
Partner with a Managed Security Service Provider
At this point, we could go into the technical details about how to stop ransomware attacks.
That message would include installing early threat detection systems and advanced endpoint protection. Not to mention running frequently schedule security scans.
But let’s get one thing straight.
Cybersecurity should be left to the experts. As a business owner or employee, you have your operations to worry about.
And maintaining a strong IT security posture is an ongoing task. It’s not something you can pick up every once in a while.
So, two words of advice:
First, don’t wait until it’s too late to have better cybersecurity.
Second, one of the most effective ways for an organization to increase its security is through the efforts of others.
It’s not uncommon for small businesses to use a security service provider. These providers help amplify the security capabilities of an in-house IT team or MSP.
And you, happen to be in luck.
MRW Systems does exactly this through our cyber security service, NetGarde.
At NetGarde, we partner with you to help you predict, detect, and respond to cyber threats. This includes ransomware attacks. Under our security wing, you’ll be able to continue to run your business with peace of mind.
Our staff is award-winning, and we have the credentials to back it up.
So, don’t let ransomware get the best of you. You can take steps towards better cybersecurity today by giving us a call at 410-751-7111. Or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Final Word of Advice
If data is being held hostage, do NOT pay the ransom. Paying the ransom only encourages and funds these criminals.
And even if the ransom is paid, there is no guarantee that you will be able to regain access to your files. Remember, you’re dealing with criminals.
Instead, you should consult with an IT security expert or law enforcement.