Ransomware 101: Protecting your Business from the Latest Malware article image

Ransomware 101: Protecting your Business from the Latest Malware

Ransomware, a new form of malware, exploded onto the security scene in 2015 and targets businesses and organizations of all sizes. As the name implies, ransomware kidnaps an organization’s systems, network or data and holds it for ransom; the victim is not restored until the requested amount is paid.

The FBI recently released a warning for enterprises of all sizes about the growing risk of ransomware and warn that payments could pass $1 billion in 2017 alone. Ransomware is particularly insidious; it can target businesses of any size, schools and even healthcare facilities with ease. Any business that has data and needs to access it is a potential victim; everything from healthcare records to grades and even inventory information has been targeted in the past.

A school district in South Carolina handed over $12,000 in bitcoin after a ransomware attack left them locked out of their own network, while a hospital in California had to pay $17,000 to have their records restored. Since ransomware locks the victim out of their own systems, many are left with the difficult choice of paying up or not being able to serve students, patients or customers.

Who is Most at Risk?

Experts at IBM suggest that SMB and mid-sized organizations are particularly vulnerable as they may be unaware of the threat or not understand how ransomware works. Since victims who are impacted once and who pay the ransom are often victimized a second time, ransomware can have a devastating impact on any organization.

Should you Pay the Ransom?

If you have not considered the risk and taken steps to mitigate it in advance, you may have to. The FBI and most other law enforcement agencies advise businesses not to encourage the criminals by paying up, but that may not be a realistic option. Having a backup in place and a plan for recovery will protect you and ensure you do not have to make that difficult choice.

Don’t Be a Victim: Protect your Business from Ransomware

Update early and often: Patches and updates are provided for a reason; make sure you are using the most up to date versions of your software, virus protection and operating systems.

Back up your data: Regularly run backups and store your data in the cloud for easy recovery; it won’t eliminate your ransomware problem entirely, but you will be able to access your data.

Don’t open email attachments: Photos, shipping documents and other attachments are often used as a delivery system for ransomware; avoid opening unsolicited attachments, even if they look like they are from someone you know.

Train your team: Make sure your employees are aware of the risk and know not to share passwords or open attachments. Anyone with login credentials could put your network at risk if they unwittingly download ransomware

Hire a pro: Managed IT services help mitigate your risk by ensuring you are always up to date, always have virus protection and that there is a plan in place for recovery if the worst happens. Since an IT services provider handles many businesses and is hyperaware of the latest forms of ransomware, they are able to proactively protect your business and network.

Simply being aware of the risk and creating an emergency plan can help you avoid being a victim; the more proactive you are the less likely you are to fall for a ransomware scam. To learn more about protecting your network and streamlining your processes, contact us. Our team of IT experts works hard to make sure you can always depend on your network and that you can focus on what you do best – running your business.

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Published: Monday, February 13, 2017