What is Ransomware?
As the name suggests, ransomware is where a hacker holds your data to ransom. A hacker will infect a victim’s computer with ransomware. This malicious software encrypts files, freezing them and preventing the victim from accessing them. The hacker will then demand payment in exchange for a decryption key. Typically, they request payment in cryptocurrency.
The worse part? Ransomware is becoming more and more common – causing a devastating threat to businesses of all sizes. We’re not just talking about the disruption and downtime it causes but also how businesses can lose data entirely and the financial harm it causes too.
You need to understand how ransomware works so that you can protect your company from it.
Usually, ransomware starts with a phishing email or on a malicious website. Either of these will then exploit the vulnerabilities in the victim’s network or software. Malware is installed on the computer and it begins to encrypt all the files. The attacker will demand a ransom payment to remove the encryption and will threaten to delete all the files or publish sensitive data online if payment isn’t made.
How can you protect your company from ransomware?
Hackers often target smaller businesses because they know they may not have the same resources or knowledge to protect themselves compared to larger enterprises.
To help reduce the risk of your company becoming a target:
1. Keep your software up to date
Ensure you have installed the latest editions of all software, with the most recent security patches. Outdated software may not protect you. Many ransomware attacks are on outdated software.
2. Train your employees
Make sure they know how to identify phishing attempts and why they should not click on suspicious links. Encourage them to report anything dubious. Insider threat is when the security of a company is compromised by an employee. This can be through negligence or human error.
3. Multi-factor authentication
Make sure that multi-factor authentication is enabled for any sensitive data or systems. This can be a code test to a separate device or a fingerprint.
4. Use a combination of security measures
Use more than one security tool. A combination of antivirus software, a firewall, spam filters, cloud data loss prevention and anti-malware software will layer up your protection.
5. Back up your data regularly
Store all data off-site and back up every day if possible. You may be able to avoid paying a ransom if you have a backup of everything.
6. Strong spam filters
Filters will reduce the possibility of phishing attempts tricking your employees.
7. Use anti-virus and anti-malware software
These will detect and block ransomware attacks.
8. Configure access controls
Manage who can access your information and limit it to the bare essential personnel. If you restrict the users’ abilities to install and run software applications, it will limit your potential exposure to malware.
9. Set up application whitelisting
This is a security measure which only allows trusted files, processes and applications to be run. Any unknown activities will be automatically blocked or restricted. This should prevent malware from being permitted to run.
10. Develop a disaster recovery plan
Have a plan in place in case you are infected with malware including shutting down your WIFI and Bluetooth, calling the local authorities and shutting down the company network immediately.
11. Team up with an IT specialist
As cyber threats are becoming more frequent and complex, it’s important to protect yourself. If you’re concerned about your cyber security, Cloud and More can help. We offer both IT support in Bristol and cyber security in Bristol and the surrounding area. By partnering with us, you can have peace of mind that your systems are protected against ransomware.
Should I pay the ransom?
It’s understandable why you would want to pay the ransom. You’re anxious about how long it will take to get your business back up and running. By paying the ransom, you assume you’ll have a faster recovery time, prevent damage to the company’s reputation, avoid excessive recovery costs and protect employee and customer data. However, there are many reasons why you should not pay:
- This payment will just be the start. You’ll be known as an easy mark and more likely to be targeted again in the future.
- It does not guarantee you’ll get access back.
- If you give in, it encourages the cybercriminals to carry on doing this to other companies.
- You could invalidate your insurance.
Ransomware is a big concern. By implementing effective security measures, you can help protect yourself from an attack. If you need help with your cyber security, Cloud and More can help. We offer cyber security in Bristol and IT support in Bristol and the surrounding regions. Get in touch to discuss the steps we can take to protect your company.