Preventing Ransomware Attacks Begins With You

Brought to you by Renelis Mulyandari

Every year that goes by, despite advances in cybersecurity, the international fight against hacking and internet-based fraud seems to continually be an issue. After the pandemic, the sheer quantity of cybercrime hasn’t stopped rising, with 2022 being another record year in terms of total hacking events and money stolen from companies during the year.

Of all the different cyberattack formats that are popular with hackers, by far, the most common next to phishing are ransomware attacks. Taking control of entire company networks, these attacks can completely sever control. Until the hacker is paid a ransom fee that they themselves set, they’ll retain control of a company’s systems.

Without access to company data or services, a business is unable to continue its day-to-day work, leading to further operational costs and losses. In this article, we’ll dive into the world of ransomware attacks, covering what business owners need to know about identifying attacks and keeping their employees safe.

What Is a Ransomware Attack?

A ransomware attack is where a hacker infiltrates a company’s computer network with their own piece of software. Once attached to the main servers, their software will then seize all channels, preventing anyone from accessing company systems, platforms, or data. 

Often, ransomware comes with a message that is displayed on everyone’s computers, most likely asking for a specific amount of money to be transferred to an account. Companies typically have three options when faced with an attack of this kind:

  • Pay - All ransomware attacks are looking for money. By paying the hackers the amount they wanted, you’re able to then regain control of your systems.
  • Start Over - If a company doesn’t have any backups available and are unwilling to pay, then they may not be able to recover their data. If that’s the case, they’re going to have to take a big hit and start again in many aspects. Especially for small businesses, this can be disastrous. 
  • Authorities - Going to the authorities works when you do so sooner rather than later. The only thing to note is that there is only a slim chance that the police will be able to help remedy the problem. You’re going to be looking at a certain extent of data loss.

Across these three scenarios, not many see the company come out on the other side without some major damage.

Even if you do pay the ransomware, that then puts a target on your back for the future, as hackers will recognize your business as one that’s willing to pay. Their mindset is that if you pay once, you’ll probably pay again in the future.

How Can You Prevent Ransomware Attacks?

The vast majority of the time, the first point of contact for ransomware attacks is via an employee’s email. It’s no secret that we humans are a big liability, especially when it comes to clicking on things we shouldn’t.

In order to successfully prevent ransomware attacks, there are a few strategies that you can adopt. We’ll cover a few core strategies that will give you a number of ways to protect yourself.

Backups

When working against a ransomware threat, the biggest problem that your company could face is the loss of your data. Especially if you manage your customers’ personal data files, then you’ve got a lot on the line. If that data is exposed, you’re going to break the trust of your clients while also giving your company a bad name.

This threat alone is more than enough for many companies to take the hackers’ deal and send over the requested money. However, with a little foresight, there is another way. By having a range of backups, you’re able to keep your operations running at full scale, despite the hackers also having access.

Without the power to ruin or corrupt all of your data, hackers won’t be able to offer nearly the same scale of the threat. Always keep backups of any documents that you need to run your company effectively.

Employee Education

As we mentioned earlier, the most likely culprit of accidentally triggering a ransomware attack is going to be your employees. In order to keep everyone as vigilant as possible, we recommend that you continually offer training modules to your employees.

Teaching them how to identify a message that likely contains ransomware and then how to properly deal with it will help them cut down on the likelihood of someone accidentally triggering an event. If you’re ever worried about the cost of training employees in cybersecurity, just remember that 60% of small businesses go out of business after a data breach.

Your data is your most powerful tool - don’t forget to protect it however you can.

Service Scans

In tandem with employee training, a great way of reducing the likelihood of a ransomware attack is to regularly do service scan emails. This is where your IT department constructs a fake ransomware email and then sends it to a group of employees.

This will test how many fall for the email, helping you to see who might need a little more training. Think of this as a regular test that you give your employees, checking on their cybersecurity awareness.

Equally, this is a good way of keeping everyone alert and ready for anything that could come their way.

Final Thoughts

Protecting your business goes beyond just being aware of the latest hacking and ransomware email formats. While it’ll put you in good stead to understand how these attacks occur, they cannot be prevented in their entirety. That’s why it’s vital to minimize the risk as much as possible.

Training your employees in risk assessment when clicking on communications, as well as risk management in the case of an emergency event, will help to prepare your business for the oncoming storm. With our tips disseminated throughout your company, you’ll be prepared for anything that comes your way - even advanced ransomware attacks.

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