5 Ways Virginia Businesses Can Prevent Ransomware Attacks
If you’ve been keeping up with the news lately, you’re probably aware that the same story has been playing out over and over – ransomware attacks from malicious actors targeting businesses and organizations of all industries.
No organization is too small or too large to be a victim of a ransomware attack. Cybercriminals will stop at nothing to hold your business or organization hostage. Regardless of your type of business and who you work with, you need to be aware of what ransomware attacks are, how to prevent them, and what actions you should take if you become a victim.
What Is Ransomware?
Ransomware attacks involve cybercriminals penetrating your systems and ceasing your business operations until a ransom is paid. Cybercriminals restrict access to your data, and they can do this by either encrypting your data or locking you out of your systems and devices. Ransomware attacks go after your data, and this can include anything from your files to your critical system operations. Nearly every ransomware attacker will include a ransom note indicating their demands. The ransom is generally requested in an online currency that cannot be traced, like Bitcoin.
You can become infected in several ways:
- A malicious link in an email message
- Infected websites
- Fake software and applications
- Malicious ads
Becoming a victim of a ransomware attack can have damaging consequences, but there are things individuals and businesses can do to limit the risk. What exactly should you be doing to protect yourself against ransomware? HRCT helps you answer that question, providing five things you can do to protect yourself and your business from ransomware.
Backup Your Data
The main objective of ransomware attacks is for cybercriminals to access your data and prevent you from regaining access to it.
Ensure that backups are regularly tested and that they are not connected to the business network, as many ransomware variants try to find and encrypt or delete accessible backups. Maintaining current backups offline is critical because if your network data is encrypted with ransomware, your organization can restore systems.
However, you must know how to backup your data correctly. Cybercriminals can easily infiltrate backup systems by going through one of your business’s desktops and making their way into your network. This means individuals and businesses need to have data backups either in the cloud or on a local storage device that is offline and not connected to your system.
If you backup your data to an external hard drive, only connect the hard drive when you are performing a backup of your data, and then disconnect it.
Update and Patch Systems Promptly
Ransomware attacks, hacking attempts, and other cyberattacks try to exploit vulnerabilities within your applications and plug-ins. Updating and patching your applications helps to prevent malicious actors from entering your network through holes in your applications and systems. This includes operating systems, applications, and firmware. Use a patch management system to help automate the process.
Enabling automatic updates can be an effective way to make sure your systems, applications, and firmware are missing any updates and patches that become available. To help manage this process, you can look at patch management and ensure that updates are applied automatically where possible.
Have and Test an Incident Response Plan
Prepare an incident response plan specific to one or more ransomware attack scenarios. Define clearly who will be responsible and what will need to be done in the first few minutes, hours, and days after an attack. Train employees on the incident response plan and ensure everyone knows what to do to minimize damage as much as possible.
Having a plan in place when an incident occurs will minimize the chaos and ensure your team is effective at mitigating the damage if and when you have a breach.
Test Your Security
One of the best ways to tackle ransomware is preventing it altogether, and this can be done by performing end-to-end security testing. Use a 3rd party pen tester to test the security of your systems and your ability to defend against sophisticated attacks. Cybercriminals are sophisticated and will find the equivalent of unlocked doors.
By performing security testing, organizations can assess vulnerabilities in their IT infrastructure and applications that may compromise the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of confidential data.
Email is the most attacked system for organizations. Users should be trained on how to avoid and spot phishing emails. Cybercriminals will attempt to convince individuals to download an attachment or click a malicious link containing ransomware. The infection will eventually spread throughout an organization’s network. Make sure all employees know the signs of a phishing email and what to do if they encounter a phishing message.
Phishing staff awareness training should be on your list of things to take care of when it comes to cybersecurity, but you might also want to educate staff on the specific risks of ransomware.
Ransomware attacks are more widespread and they pose a serious threat to all organizations. Individuals and organizations need to know what ransomware attacks are, how to protect themselves against the attacks, and what to do if they become a victim of a ransomware attack.
Understanding ransomware and ransomware prevention will decrease your risk of a possible ransomware attack. In the event you do become a victim of a ransomware attack, the consequences will not be as dire because you implemented the proper cybersecurity measures.
It is important to implement measures to prevent ransomware attacks, but it is also important to consider what could happen if something goes wrong. It only takes one error or vulnerability for disaster to strike – and when it happens, every second counts. You have to respond promptly and follow a structured approach to the recovery process.
HRCT will help you find the solutions that match your unique requirements – ensuring you pay for the security protection you need. Our team will analyze your current security measures and suggest ways of improving them. Our team will make sure you invest in what you need to protect what you want. If that sounds like a win-win, then contact us today to schedule your consultation.
Thanks to James Forbis, a Cincinnati IT service professional at 4BIS.COM, and Ulistic HPC member for his help with this article.