6 Ways to Protect Your Business from Ransomware Attacks!

Ransomware

As a business owner, you need to be aware of the threat of ransomware which holds data hostage in exchange for payment. This form of malware is not new. So, why is it even more important to protect your data against this type of threat?

The pandemic has prompted a surge in digitization in the last couple of years: more people work remotely, and we use the internet to hold meetings and exchange data.

With this has come a boom in cybercrime. According to the U.K.’s National Cyber Security Center, ransomware attacks in the country have more than doubled since 2020. In the U.S., federal officials label this form of malware the single biggest national threat.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to prevent your data from being held hostage and to protect your business and clients.

1. Secure email gateways

Emails are one of the primary ways ransomware attacks devices and networks. To guard this gateway, you require strong filters and layers of protection that will examine and test emails and attachments before they reach anyone’s inbox.

The use of a Virtual Private Network, such as the Surfshark VPN, is one of the best ways to protect your privacy as it encrypts your connection. This  is particularly important if you are traveling and using a public network as your company’s data may be at increased risk.

2. Use firewall technology

Businesses have their own websites, they use web applications, and employees visit other websites. Each of these could be an entry point for ransomware. A web application firewall (WAF) monitors and filters traffic to and from a web service.

A WAF acts as the first line of defense against cyberattacks. Firewalls are increasingly necessary as businesses launch new digital initiatives such as application interfaces because these increase risk. These firewalls keep both accessed content and applications secure.

3. Keep your devices, programs, and operating system up to date

Performing updates is a good way to protect your devices, systems, and data. Often, these updates include security-related patches and upgrades. If you use plugins in any applications such as WordPress, you will need to update these regularly too.

Just as legitimate software releases new and updated versions so do cybercriminals. The updates will ensure your data protection such as anti-malware applications, software, etc. recognize and block the newest threats.

4. Always backup your data

Backing up data has always been crucial, especially with business-critical data. There are points to keep in mind, though:

  • Backup data regularly. Someone should be formally responsible for this.
  • Store backed up data off-site so you can bypass the ransomware and restore data.
  • Smaller enterprises can use freestanding hard drives that are not connected to the network.

In case you’ve already got ransomware in your system but managed to restore your data, it’s important to remember that after that you have to remove the ransomware from the network. Sophisticated malware will find restored data.

5. Train users to detect ransomware

While using firewalls, VPNs, anti-malware software, and other protective features is vital, you also need to make your staff aware of the dangers and train them to recognize anything suspicious. They also need to know how to secure devices at work and at home.

If users know what malicious email and imposter websites look like, they are less likely to open dangerous emails or attachments or click on website links. You could consider implementing a security protocol that helps with identifying these threats.

6. Have a plan & respond quickly to a ransomware attack

It is dangerous to be complacent about cybersecurity. Equally, you must avoid chaos and delays, and downtime after an attack. Have a clear plan of action and run drills and tests in preparation. Ask yourself:

  • Who will do what in the event of a ransomware attack?
  • Who will help you with forensic analysis and malware removal?
  • Do you have experts available to help you restore systems? 

Recovery can be costly in financial terms, loss of productivity, and damage to your brand. By the third quarter of 2021, downtime following a ransomware attack in the U.S. increased from 15 to 22 days.

Concluding thoughts

Ransomware is a growing threat to businesses of all sizes. However, you are not helpless and there are steps you can take.

If you invest in protecting all emails, firewalls, and in other security measures your data will be better safeguarded. Ensuring that your devices, operating systems, and programs are up to date is also crucial. 

Core basics such as regular backups to off-site storage and educating all users must be part of your strategy. Finally, if you have a thoughtful response and recovery plan you can go a long way to preventing attacks or at least recovering quickly after them.

Ransomware attacks article and permission to publish here provided by Patrick Baluyot. Originally written for Supply Chain Game Changer and published on May 16, 2022.

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