5 Ways to Protect Your Business from Ransomware Attacks

Cybercriminals are constantly searching for ways to increase their profits, and one of the most lucrative avenues for them to explore is ransomware. A ransomware attack locks down your files until you pay the hacker a ransom—usually in untraceable online currency such as Bitcoin—to unlock your information and get it back.

Some hackers even encrypt data multiple times so victims have to pay more than once to decrypt their information, which can really eat away at the victim’s funds. So, how can you defend your business against ransomware attacks? Read on to learn the top five best practices you should use to protect yourself from ransomware attacks.

What is ransomware and how it works

Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts your files and demands a ransom in order for you to get the decryption key. In most cases, the attackers will demand payment in Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency. Once they have encrypted your files, they will send you a message with instructions on how to pay the ransom. If you don’t pay, they may threaten to delete your files or release them publicly. The most common tactics hackers use to carry out ransomware attacks are email phishing campaigns, exploiting cloud, IoT and software vulnerabilities — resulting in serious consequences such as: 

  • Data loss/corruption/theft
  • Unauthorized access
  • Reputation loss
  • Hardware damage
  • Blackmailing
  • Revenue loss
  • Business interruptions
  • Misuse of the compromised data/information
  • Legal complications and so on.

Ransomware Is a Growing Threat

Over the last few years, ransomware attacks have been on a steady rise and pose a significant threat for businesses and average internet users. Experts predict that a ransomware attack will occur every 11 seconds this year — causing on average a business downtime of 21 days. According to the FBI, there are on average more than 4000 attempts of ransomware assaults every single day. Experts have also reported an estimated 20 Billion global loss due to ransomware attacks. While cybercriminals do not discriminate when it comes to initiating malicious cyber attacks, there are some industries where businesses are experiencing more ransomware attacks as compared to businesses operating in other industrial sectors. Top industries targeted by ransomware include:

  • Education
  • Retail
  • Business, professional and legal services
  • Central government
  • IT
  • Manufacturing
  • Energy and utilities infrastructure
  • Healthcare
  • Local government
  • Financial services

Protecting Your Business Against Ransomware

Protecting your business against ransomware attacks has never been more challenging. Compared to the year 2020, malicious ransomware attacks surged over 92% in 2021, while this number continues to grow rapidly. According to the 2022 Cyber Threat Report, just last year, Government entities globally witnessed a staggering 1,885% increase in ransomware attacks while the healthcare industry saw a 755% increase.

This goes to show how quickly ransomware has grown over the past years and how critical it has become for businesses of all sizes and types to implement necessary security measures to protect themselves and their businesses against ransomware. The best way to protect against ransomware attacks is by being proactive about protecting your sensitive data and networks. Below are the top 5 best practices you can follow to defend against ransomware.

1-  Encryption & Backup

Always encrypt your sensitive data/information. Encrypting your organizational data will not allow unauthorized entities to access or misuse your data — protecting not only from ransomware but also from other emerging cybersecurity threats.

The next step after encryption is to backup your data. Backing up your data is one of the most important things you can do to protect your business from ransomware attacks. By regularly backing up your data, you can ensure that you have a recent copy of your data that can be used to restore your system in the event of an attack. There are many different ways to backup your data, so find a method that works best for you and make sure to stick to a regular schedule.

Even if cybercriminals get a hold of your data, they will not be able to access or misuse the compromised data because of encryption — while you can restore your data from a recent data backup.

2- Use Anti-Virus Software

Since ransomware is a type of malware, one of the best ways to protect your business is to use antivirus or anti-malware software. There are many anti-ransomware solutions available that  can detect and remove malware, including ransomware, from your computer. Also, be sure to keep your anti-virus software up-to-date by installing the latest updates and security patches while also running regular scans of your computer using your anti-virus software.

3- Have a Disaster Recovery Plan In Place

A ransomware attack can quickly turn into a disaster if you’re not prepared. Having a solid disaster recovery plan in place will help ensure that your business can recover from an attack quickly and efficiently. Here are five things your disaster recovery plan should include:

  1. A backup of all critical data
  2. A way to restore data quickly
  3. A plan for how to keep your business running during an attack
  4. A way to communicate with employees, customers, and partners
  5. A list of steps on what employees should do during the attack

4- Conduct Regular Vulnerability Assessments

Conducting regular organization-wide vulnerability assessment and security audits can help you identify potential security loopholes and will allow you to patch those weaknesses in a timely manner before they are exploited by cybercriminals.

5- Maintain Strong Cyber Hygiene Practices

Cyber hygiene is the practice of protecting your devices and networks from online threats. By maintaining strong cyber hygiene practices, you can help protect your business from ransomware attacks. Some best practices include:

  • Keep your software and systems up-to-date with the latest security patches.
  • Use strong passwords and enable two-factor authentication whenever possible.
  • Back up your data regularly.
  • Train your employees in cyber security best practices.

Conclusion

Ransomware attacks are on the rise and it is critical for organizations to learn necessary security measures to protect against ransomware. A ransomware attack on your business can result in complications such as business disruptions, data breaches, blackmailing, reputation damage, and so on. Since there are various types of ransomware with ever-changing capabilities and variants released by cybercriminals, it’s crucial to understand how ransomware attacks work and learn about different ways to protect your business from it. The key to effective overall organization cybersecurity is to regularly test and innovate current security defenses while investing in new security technologies.

Contact us today to start the process of protecting your business.

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