Ransomware: It’s a costly cybercrime that has severe implications for businesses of any size. Just look back to May, when hackers pried into the networks of the Colonial Pipeline using a comprised username and password. They shut the entire gasoline pipeline system down, leading to massive shortages across the South and East coast. And it all happened because one account did not use two-factor authentication.
What is Ransomware?
Before adequately protecting your business from ransomware attacks, you must know what ransomware is and how ransomware attacks happen.
Ransomware is a type of malware that uses encryption to hold a victim’s data ransom. Hackers encrypt a business’s essential files, so business owners cannot access them, and then they demand money to reinstate access. These attacks can spread across entire networks, holding entire businesses hostage, just like what happened to the Colonial Pipeline.
And these sorts of attacks are becoming more and more common. According to a recent study conducted by IBM, ransomware attacks increased 6000% in 2016 compared to 2015; this number has likely only increased in the COVID era, considering malware and phishing increased 569% during the first month of lockdown, according to INTERPOL.
How to Protect Your Business from Ransomware
To help keep you safe, we’ve devised a list of some simple and easy ways to protect your business from ransomware attacks.
The first and most important step to protecting your business from cyberattacks is educating yourself and your employees on cyber safety. Employees are both the first point of defense and weakness in combatting cybercrimes; it is vital to invest in substantive cybersecurity training for your employees.
When employees can recognize the signs of different hacking attempts, know how to protect their data, and understand the consequences of cyberattacks, they can better prevent security breaches.
Manage Access to Accounts
Not every employee needs full access to company data or specific abilities. Siloing confidential data from non-essential users with access controls can further prevent ransomware attacks.
It is best practice to start with the least amount of access privileges and limit administration access to essential users only. Business owners should set access control on files, network share capabilities, and directories. Password management software is a great tool to save passwords and manage access securely. Additionally, you should limit what employees can access from their personal computers.
A crucial component of securing accounts is enabling two-factor authentication (2FA). Yes, it can be a nuisance when you stumble upon a prompt requiring a code from another email or your phone, but it can protect your business from disaster.
For example, had the account owner of the comprised password in the Colonial Pipeline debacle had 2FA enabled, their account would have likely remained secure, and they would not have had their pipeline operations held for ransom.
Spam Filters and Attention to Emails
So, hackers can encrypt your data using malware, but how do they ‘get in’? Frequently, hackers use a technique called phishing to infect their victims with malware; this is how they get your information. Phishing uses fraudulent emails or other messages, mimicking legitimate ones, that prompts users to provide their personal information: log-ins, bank account number, credit card number, address, or social security number, for example.
These tricks are a common way hackers receive information and generally are written to agitate users, or imbue them with a sense of urgency, to bait them into quickly providing their information.
However, companies can avoid phishing vulnerabilities by employing strict spam filters and educating employees to carefully vet emails that ask for their information and contain links.
Back-up Your Data
If you are attacked with ransomware, you will want to be able to access your data. Backing up your data to external drives, like a separate device, or a cloud server, can protect your privileged data and keep it accessible always.
Consistent data back-ups should be routine for all businesses looking to improve day-to-day efficiency and restore data (even if it just gets deleted).
When it comes to keeping your business safe from cyberattacks, there is a lot more for businesses to consider; business owners looking to protect themselves from costly cyberattacks should consult an experienced IT company. At Go Kall IT, we offer top-notch IT services and advice for business. Please don’t waste another moment with weak security; contact us today.