Ransomware is one of the worst strains of malware that your business could encounter. It makes cyber-extortion possible and can be a big problem for any business that happens to come across it. You need to learn what ransomware is and how to protect your business from malware and other cyberthreats.
What Exactly is Ransomware?
For those of you that don’t already know, ransomware is a strain of computer malware that locks down some part of your computer or network and then demands a ransom paid in cryptocurrency to unlock it. For any organization that depends on their computing infrastructure (and what organization doesn’t nowadays?), it can be a completely devastating occurrence that, depending on your situation, could put your whole business at risk.
Why Ransomware Should Alarm the Small Business
A lot is made about cyberattacks and you wouldn’t be surprised to find out that the majority of them are aimed at enterprises; companies that can afford to pay a ransom and keep going about their business (not that we condone that). For smaller businesses, a ransomware attack can be costly in many ways. These include:
- Downtime from having mission critical systems locked by the ransomware
- The cost of the ransom if you choose to pay it
- The reputational damage that comes with losing control of customer data
The fact is that as technology advances and businesses utilize cloud computing, accept payments online, and have a web presence directly tied to your company’s computers, the more cyberthreats will persist. None of these things are slowing down, so you need to know that as a small business owner, your business is potentially days away from being the victim of ransomware, and you need to do something about it.
Many people liken ransomware to a shark attack or the old fable of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”. Sure, getting bit by a shark (or a wolf) would be terrible, but if you haven’t had to deal with ransomware for the past 23 years (the first ransomware was developed in 1989 and was called PS Cyborg), you probably think that you and your business are immune to it. To be clear, you aren’t immune from contracting ransomware, and the more you know about how to keep that streak going, the better off you and your business are going to be.
Let’s look at three strategies that you should have in place to help you ward off all types of cybercrime, including ransomware attacks:
Train Your Users to Detect Phishing Messages
Phishing is the #1 attack vector for ransomware and if you train your staff about the signs that they may be dealing with a potential phishing attack, the less likely your business will ever have to deal with ransomware. Some things your staff should be on the lookout for in their correspondence include:
- Phishing messages always typically ask for sensitive information
- Phishing messages utilize different domains from legitimate sources
- Phishing messages contain unsolicited attachments and links
- Phishing messages tend to have poor grammar and don’t typically have the elements of personalization that you would expect.
- Phishing messages try to elicit panic resulting in impulsive action
A message having any or all of these variables doesn’t automatically make it a phishing message, but the illegitimacy of phishing messages can often be ascertained by the message itself.
Keep Your Software Patched
You will want to make sure that firmware, antivirus software, operating systems and other applications you utilize are consistently patched. New ransomware versions come out of the blue and by the time anyone catches on, the hackers that perpetuated them are counting their Bitcoin. By patching software, you ensure that your software is current and has taken into account the threat definitions necessary to keep malware of any type out of your network. The knowledgeable professionals at SRS Networks have a patch management platform that can save you and your staff the time and effort needed to keep up on all new software updates.
Back Up Your Data
Finally, you will always want to back up your data; not only to combat ransomware, but because it could literally save your business. Having up-to-date backups can help you bypass the ransom demand and restore data and applications affected by the hacker’s encryption. Since most ransomware today is sophisticated enough to search for backup files, you will definitely want to keep a backup offsite, so that they aren’t corrupted.
Keeping ransomware off of your network and endpoints is extremely important. If you would like to have a conversation about how best to accomplish this feat, give us a call today at (831) 758-3636.