Small- and medium-sized businesses are considered top candidates for ransomware attacks. If you are the owner or executive in charge of such a business, there are some things you can do to protect your company against ransomware.
What Is Ransomware?
Ransomware is a specific type of malware. If your computer system is hacked and ransomware is introduced, your entire system, or at least key data and programs, are encrypted. The only way to get your stuff released is to pay off the cyber-kidnappers.
Ransomware began in earnest in 2013 when cyberthieves began to attack solo computers and lock them. For a few hundred dollars, the cybercriminals unlocked the stricken computer and returned the data and or system to its owner. It wasn’t long before these evil hackers realized that the business community, especially small- and medium-sized business, is a target-rich environment. Large companies may have taken appropriate precautions against ransomware, which is much harder for companies with smaller budgets to handle before an attack, but who can better afford to pay a higher ransom than a PC owner.
The actual definition of ransomware is malware or malicious software that has been designed in such a manner that it takes control of the victim’s computer system.
According to a 2015 article in the Wall Street Journal, no known count exists of the businesses that have been hacked and have had ransomware capture their system.
Aside from the obvious costs of downtime from locked systems and/or the ransom paid, members of certain regulated industries face another issue: privacy breaches. The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the Inspector General has been settling privacy breach issues for staggering sums of money; hospital fines are coming in at more than $2 million for data breaches, and the financial industry is subject to similar privacy laws since HIPAA guides the health industry.
Preventing Ransomware on Your Business Computer System
No matter what precautions you decide to take to manage your ransomware risk, somehow or other, your system may be compromised. The absolute best way to solve the problem of being infected with ransomware is to keep an entire backup copy off the premises but that’s easily retrievable. If you do this, you can restore your system with current data and software programs.
One way to do this is storing your backup in a secure place in the cloud. No cases of ransomware have been reported as having been perpetrated on data in the cloud, which makes it a good place to store your backup copy.
The more you use hosted storage, apps and software from the cloud, the more secure your data becomes.
Ransomware prevention relies on users following some simple rules and your acquiring robust anti-malware and anti-virus software. Let’s look closer at each.
The primary method of infection by malware is when an email is opened from an unknown source. Teach employees to never open or download attachments from an email when the sender is unknown.
Also, educate your employees about the dangers from sites that are unknown. Cybercriminals are so sophisticated today that it is easy for them to forge security certificates and logos to display on their phony site. If your employees have never heard of the phoney “business,” tell them to not click anywhere on the site or download anything from it.
Software Protection From Ransomware
You should install specific software programs on your business computer system to help thwart ransomware attacks. Make sure your virus software is robust and kept up-to-date; do the same for your malware protection. Make sure to update the signatures for both types of software on a daily basis.
Because the cost of a shutdown is so great, many companies opt to use a managed services provider for security protection.
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