What is “Ransomware”?
Ransomware is software that infects computers and networks intending to hold your systems and files hostage for money. It achieves this goal by encrypting your files and system. By doing this you are forced to either pay the fee they ask for or otherwise lose your files.
Ransomware is becoming increasingly popular among small, medium, and large businesses alike. In fact, according to Tech Jury, 4,000 Ransomware attacks occur daily around the world! But there is some good news, it can be avoided and mitigated without paying a single ransom payment.
7 Tips to Avoid Ransomware:
Believe it or not, the majority of ransomware attacks occur simply by employees opening links or files via email or social media. Proper employee training is critical to stopping ransomware attacks from taking over your systems and networks.
Even with proper employee training, ransomware attacks are still possible. Sometimes users can unknowingly infect a system by just browsing social media. It’s been proven that attackers take out ads that maliciously download ransomware and other forms of malware to computers.
Having regular security audits of your internal and external networks and devices will help spot weaknesses inside of your network before it is too late.
Backups and Disaster Recovery Plans:
Ransomware or not, every company should have proper backups and a disaster recovery plan in place. Proper backup and disaster recovery plans can help mitigate any Ransomware infections without paying a single ransomware payment. Simply, once the machine is infected, we would restore a recent backup of the system and get your systems back online. Sadly, the majority of companies’ backup plans are not enough to fend off sophisticated Ransomware infections. Contact us for a FREE consultation to see if your existing backup plan is strong enough to fend off ransomware when it strikes. Have a look at our Simple yet highly effective 3-2-1 Backup Plan
Antivirus and Anti-Malware:
While regular security audits are needed, it is just not enough. You should have well-known effective antivirus and anti-malware software in place. It should be updated daily, and multiple daily scans activated. The results (good or bad) should be closely monitored by your IT staff. Traditional antivirus software however is not enough on its own. We offer multiple layers of system security in our Managed IT Service plans that will look for suspicious activity before an infection even gets full control of your system.
A strong firewall that offers inbound and outbound security monitoring is critical for protecting your systems from Ransomware attacks as well as others security threats. Website filtering is also a must in lowering your chances of getting infected with a Ransomware attack. Being able to filter and block known malware-spreading websites is key here and is usually done via automated and frequently updated security lists.
As mentioned above in employee training, most all malware and ransomware are spread to unsuspecting users by malicious email. Proper inbound and outbound email filtering is critical. Most antivirus software is capable of this, but that is not enough. Your email provider should also be able to scan for malicious links and attachments before it even comes into your inbox. This will greatly decrease the chances of users clicks on malicious links or opening suspicious attachments.
Least Privilege Possible:
Even with all of the things we have talked about above, it is still possible to get infected by ransomware. We encourage our customers to operate on a “least privilege possible” plan. That means that strict security policies are set in place to make sure that employees and their systems only have access to the files and systems they absolutely need. This ensures that if a specific user’s system were to get infected, the spread of infection would be minimized to just their local system and network access.
Encrypting the system, Volume, and Files are key. Encrypting your drives yourself doesn’t prevent ransomware. It simply protects the contents from being read by the attacker. This would mean an attacker wouldn’t be able to do anything with the files other than making them unusable. Encryption is a good way to prevent data theft as well.
As you can see by reading through the 7 Tips to Avoid Ransomware above, it takes a lot of moving parts to protect against ransomware attacks and a lot of these best practices often go overlooked. It is strongly advised that your IT staff or 3rd party IT provider undergoes the proper training to handle a situation where you may suffer data loss from ransomware or any other critical disaster.
If you would like to discuss if you are properly prepared to deal with a Ransomware attack, we do offer a Free 30-minute consultation. Please send us a message by clicking here, or call our office at 631-403-1104