Among the plethora of issues currently threatening businesses today, ransomware is quickly emerging as one of the most prevalent and dangerous. Just this year, we’ve had a number of high-profile attacks, one of which could have had national economy-affecting implications. With cybersecurity on center stage, it’s never been more important to know how to avoid ransomware attacks.
Like computer viruses, botnets, Trojans, or spyware, ransomware is a type of malware. As its name suggests, hackers use this malware to hold things for ransom. This can include your computer files, applications, or even your entire operating system (OS).
Often caused by someone falling for a phishing scam, ransomware works by encrypting whatever it gains access to. Users are locked out of these infected programs, rendering them useless until the ransom is paid. What’s worse is ransomware can affect a variety of devices, like laptops, servers, and even smartphones.
No one is safe from a ransomware attack, whether it’s an individual or a company. However, cybercriminals tend to focus most of their attention on corporations because businesses have access to valuable sensitive information and are more likely than individuals to pay the ransom.
Having ransomware protection can help defend your business from these attacks. But as the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. Fortunately, there are many ways to prevent ransomware attacks and keep your network secure.
The more you know about ransomware, the easier it is to avoid it. So, let’s talk about the different types of ransomware. There are countless strains of ransomware on the internet. However, most of them fall into one of two categories. These categories are:
- Crypto Ransomware: This type of ransomware encrypts important data—like documents, pictures, and videos—but doesn’t interfere with basic computer functions. This means that you can use your computer normally and see your files, but you can’t access them.
- Locker Ransomware: Locker ransomware ups the ante by not encrypting the files, but actually locking you out of your device. If you are able to interact with anything, it’s likely only the keyboard, mouse, and a window that allows you to send the ransom payment.
Both types of attacks are designed to pressure you into feeling like your only option is to pay the fee. However, it’s recommended that you never pay what the hacker is asking for. Paying the ransom only encourages the cybercriminal to do it again. It’s also important to keep in mind that there’s no guarantee the hacker will free your system from the malware even if you do pay up.
Now that you know a little more about ransomware and its nature, here are seven steps you can take to avoid it:
- Educate Your Employees: Your employees are your first line of defense against all cyberattacks. That’s why the first step on how to prevent hacking in business starts with education. You need to take the time to educate your staff on the dangers of ransomware and other cyberthreats. Providing online courses, learning tools, and other helpful items can boost their understanding of the subject. An employee who’s armed with this knowledge is much less likely to become a victim.
- Train Your Workers: In addition to education, it helps to throw in some training as well. Create real-life scenarios that force your team members to use what they know. For example, you could have your IT department periodically send your staff simulated phishing scams. By doing this, the lessons your team has learned get engraved into their minds, enabling them to see through attacks more easily.
- Change the Culture: In order to make sure your team continues to abide by cybersecurity best practices, you need to create a work culture that encourages the behavior. Whether employees are taking steps to further educate themselves, participating in discussions, or joining training sessions, you want to foster a culture that makes your team want to stay engaged.
- Avoid Unknown USBs: Have you ever plugged in someone else’s thumb drive into your work computer? If yes, that is a dangerous game you’re playing. You should never connect a USB drive or other storage media to your computer if you don’t know where it came from. Cybercriminals often install ransomware on storage devices and place them in public areas to entice someone into using it. It’s also not uncommon for coworkers with ulterior motives to do something similar.
- Maintain Communication: Your employees aren’t perfect and they can forget the lessons they learned. It helps to maintain ongoing communication about cybersecurity by providing reminders.
- Configure Your Filters: While it’s possible for hackers to hide ransomware in common files—like Word documents—most rely on less common executable file types. For example, you are more likely to see ransomware in files that contain .exe, .vbs, and .scr. By configuring your anti-spam filters to flag these file types, you can make it easier to avoid an attack.
- Monitor Your Network: If a ransomware infection manages to penetrate your firewalls, remember that you’re not completely helpless. If you can catch it early enough, you can mitigate the danger. A managed service provider (MSP) can monitor your network 24/7, alert you to suspicious activity, and remove the threat before end users notice anything wrong.
The Logic Group is an industry-leading MSP that specializes in managed IT and cybersecurity services. Whether you’re looking for 24/7 monitoring, cybersecurity awareness training, data backup, web filtering, or other advanced cybersecurity measures, we have exactly what you need to stay secure. Let our security experts protect your systems.
Contact us today to learn more.