If a ransomware attack is successful it can easily see your whole business out of action. It is currently seen as one of the greatest online threats and can shut down entire networks. So, what is it and how do you protect against it?
What is ransomware?
Ransomware is a malicious software, also known as malware, that can infect a person’s computer and block them from accessing their files by encrypting them. The attackers hold this encrypted information for ‘ransom’ until the person pays a large fee to release them. Ransomware attackers do this to gain money as they know businesses need access to their valuable data.
How does it work?
The criminals will usually send through an email with a link or attachment that looks completely innocent and legitimate. Most ransomware is reliant upon the user interacting with the link or attachment for it to activate so the link is usually something that will make users want to click onto it. As soon as the network or system has been compromised certain files, or all of the files can be taken control of the by the malware and then user will then no longer be able to access them.
Once the malware is in place, the victim will be notified of what has happened and the criminal will outline their demands, telling the user they can regain control of their files if they pay a sum of money. Often businesses have many important files with valuable information and data inside that they cannot risk losing, or need to continue functioning, so these criminals know they are likely to pay.
There are so many new ransomware techniques emerging and availability of it is increasing. It was reported that ransomware attacks have more than doubled in 2019. The healthcare and education sector are often targeted heavily by ransomware attackers as they know that they have a limited budget that usually isn’t prioritised towards paying for cyber security. Attackers like to target businesses with a lot of valuable and rich data that is easy to access.
What can you do to protect yourself?
There are a number of things you can do to protect yourself against ransomware such as:
Backup your data – To ensure your data is always safe and accessible even if you suffer from a ransomware attack, you should consider implementing a data backup service. Halcyon provide server and data backup services as well as disaster recovery services in which we make backups of all your files and keep them kept securely offsite. We can then provide you with access to your data files if anything ever happens.
Invest in cyber security and anti-virus protection – Cyber security is essential for every business especially nowadays with attacks on the rise. If a hacker infiltrates your business this could have catastrophic results.
Keep your software updated – Hackers tend to attack businesses and organisations with outdated software. Older versions of software can often no longer be updated or ‘patched’ and security updates no longer protect them so hackers can get into them much easier. If your business is running on outdated software, you should look to update as soon as possible. Remember Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008/R2 support is ending in January 2020, so if you are still running this software you could be at risk of being exploited by cyber criminals.
Educate your staff – Alert all your staff members to the common methods hackers use to implement malware so that they are aware of the threats and know when to be cautious. This can reduce your chances of being attacked. Tell your employees they need to use strong passwords and advise them never to open links or documents on emails they aren’t expecting.
Act cautiously! – It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Don’t ever click on a link or open an attachment within any emails that you aren’t expecting. Say you are emailed something from a courier but aren’t expecting a delivery, don’t open the email or click on a link from them. Hackers can be very clever, even if an email looks legitimate you still need to be cautious. Ransomware files can look just like a normal PDF, Word document or Excel spreadsheet. Only open attachments or click on links from trusted senders. If you’re ever in doubt, just don’t open it.
Halcyon can help keep your businesses protected from ransomware attacks. We offer a range of services such as server and data backups, disaster recovery, antivirus and antispam protection and software updates which can help keep your business protected. Contact us today and our team of experts will be more than happy to provide advice and discuss the best options for you and your business.