If you’ve read the news lately, you’re aware that ransomware attacks are becoming more and more widespread. Recently, major companies have been targeted by malicious agents who have held their data hostage in exchange for millions of dollars in ransom demands.
Sadly, most ransomware attacks don’t make headlines because they target smaller businesses. To make sure you don’t fall victim, consider the following proactive tips for keeping your company’s data safe and secure.
Raise Staff Awareness
Increasing office awareness about ransomware is a fundamental security measure. Tell your staff not to provide personal information when answering unsolicited phone calls, email, text messages or any type of instant message. You should also tell them to contact your IT department anytime they receive suspicious messages or calls.
Phishers will always try to mislead employees into clicking links, installing malware or revealing inside knowledge by claiming to be from IT. It only takes a single careless employee to compromise an entire organization. While training sessions are essential, don’t expect them to keep you 100% safe from an attack.
Get Professional Help
Modern businesses have to use modern security measures to protect themselves from attacks. Unfortunately, technology changes so fast, “modern” anti-malware software can become antiquated in a matter of months. That’s why it’s very important to partner with a reputable IT security provider who can shore up your network and keep it that way with regular updates.
This means having an effective firewall and up-to-date antivirus software. It also means employing content filtering and scanning on your mail servers. Inbound emails should always be scanned for any and all known threats. Your network should also block any attachment file types that could pose a potential threat.
Software and systems need to be up-to-date with relevant patches the moment they are released to the public. Since exploit kits on compromised websites are often used to spread harmful malware; routine patching is usually necessary to help prevent a company’s systems from infection.
Stay Safe on the Go
Even if your internal systems are very secure, your data could be at risk any time you or an employee works remotely. When traveling, have staffers alert your IT department first, especially if they plan to use public Wi-Fi. Make sure they always use a trustworthy Virtual Private Network (VPN) when using any sort of unsecured public Wi-Fi.
Avoid Paying the Ransom
While it may seem like the easiest way to escape the consequences of a ransom attack, giving in is a bad idea. By paying the bad actors behind your attack, you will only be encouraging them to try again later. Even if you pay the ransom, you’ll be dealing with criminals, and there’s no guarantee you will actually regain access to your data.
Instead of paying anything, your best bet is to wipe your systems and restore any impacted data from a reliable backup. A full restoration of your data from a backup is the safest and fastest way to regain access to your files.
Regularly Back Up your Data
You obviously can’t restore your data if you haven’t been backing it up. The primary way businesses recover from a ransomware attack is by restoring their systems from reliable backups. That said, it can take days to restore all systems, and any changes since the last backup before the malware attack are usually lost.
In most cases, you will need an expert to investigate when your data was originally tampered with, so you can be certain you are restoring from an unaffected backup instance. If not, your problems will start all over again.
In some cases, it may be possible to restore your company’s files on individual systems using a type of built-in file versioning service. This approach maintains the version history of every file on a drive, allowing you to “go back in time” and restore each one to an unencrypted state. With ever-evolving ransomware variants, however, this method has lost its effectiveness, as the malicious software gets more and more sophisticated.
Whatever the case, without rollback technology or some type of external data backup, recovery is all but impossible. It’s important to have some sort of automated data backup process that will store your files off-site without you having to do any heavy lifting.
The Bottom Line
Although the news tends to focus on incidents involving big corporations, ransomware criminals often target small- and medium-sized businesses. You might find that somewhat curious, but it’s really not that hard to understand. Just like most criminals, digital criminals prefer low-hanging fruit. Sadly, smaller companies tend to have lax security and unsuspecting employees who are easily duped into clicking phishing links and giving up sensitive information.
With this in mind, it’s important to secure your systems by partnering with a reputable technology expert who provides a diverse suite of services that include security expertise.
If you’re hoping to secure your business’s systems and streamline critical operational efficiencies, Fisher Technology can help. We manage cloud environments, servers, computers, mobile devices, network equipment and mobile applications. We can help shield your company from hackers, malware and ransomware while streamlining your operations with electronic document automation and cost-effective workflow solutions. Contact us to learn more.