8 Crucial Steps to Protect your Business from Ransomware

The possibility of a cyberattack on your business has increased dramatically. Just last year, 76% of organizations reported some form of a ransomware attack and as these threats continue they could end up costing a collective $265 billion by the year 2031. The term ransomware may be something you’re used to hearing, but many don’t realize that the threats are ramping up, and an increasing number of businesses and organizations will find themselves being targeted by these costly attacks.  

 

Ransomware — What it is & How it’s Different 

Data and information employees are no longer contained within the walls of a physical office.  For that reason, firewalls are not hacked as often anymore. Instead, attackers are using ransomware to steal your data. Ransomware is a type of malware that is used by cybercriminals to get into your system, steal or encrypt your data, and demand a ransom for its return or a key to decrypt it.  

What makes ransomware so different from other cyber-attacks is that it has a more deceptive nature to it. Ransomware attackers often gain access to sensitive data by simply asking for it in a way designed to play off the fear and emotion of employees in your organization, often impersonating a trusted source or an unlikely message. 

This is usually in the form of innocent-looking emails to you and your team that are actually malicious attempts to steal or encrypt your personal information.  

In the past, it was easier to notice when your computer was infected with a virus, but with ransomware, organizations are often getting attacked and have no idea it’s happening or how until it’s infected the majority of the connected devices, and stolen your data. 

 

The Evolving Nature of Ransomware  

While ransomware has been around for a while, with the first known ransomware attack occurring in 1989, the attacks have evolved over the past few years. One of the more common ransomware techniques is called double-extortion. 

With double extortion, attackers not only encrypt your data on your computers and servers, then demand ransom money to unlock it; they also exfiltrate your data to another location, where they can use it later to demand even more ransom money in exchange for the data to not be leaked publicly.  

Even when a ransom is paid to unlock the data on your computers and servers, there is no guarantee that the attackers won’t use your data at a later time (maybe much later) to extort a potentially even larger sum. 

 

To Make Matters Worse – Now Ransomware as a Service (RaaS) 

But, it gets worse. It has recently been discovered that there is a huge underground market of Ransomware as a Service (RaaS) offerings. RaaS is essentially an affiliate program for cybercriminals, providing immediate access to powerful hacking tools and services for a small fee.  

Hacking groups create these services so that anyone with basic computer knowledge can get involved in attacks and be compensated for successful attacks. At this point, any 10-year-old with reasonable computer skills could launch a ransomware attack from their basement in very little time. 

 

‘But My Business is Small, They Wouldn’t Attack Me!’ 

It is a common misconception that only the larger corporations with highly valuable data are the ones who have to deal with ransomware attacks, and up until recently, you would’ve been right about that.  

The more valuable your data is, the more at risk you are for cyber-attacks. But with the emergence and availability of RaaS, more and more small- to mid-sized organizations will see themselves targeted.  

Attackers also know that small businesses, while they are smaller targets, are more likely to be insecure, making them easy targets. It really is a quantity-over-quality game at this point. 

The bottom line is that it’s increasingly vital to take the steps to continually improve your cybersecurity. While cybersecurity experts will continue to prepare for what may become the next big trend in cybersecurity, it is important that your organization is laser-focused on your cybersecurity now.  

 

8 Security Measures Every Organization Should Implement 

Last year, InsITe’s managed clients had zero instances of successful ransomware attacks. Here are the same eight steps we used to protect their people and their data. The key to adequate protection is a layered approach. 

1.  Invest in Cybersecurity Insurance 

This first step will help reduce the financial risks involved in cybercrimes and can be especially important if your organization does business online. Cybersecurity Insurance is a good safety net as you implement additional safeguards.  

2.  Implement a Modern Security Platform 

As ransomware and other cyber-attacks continue to evolve, so do the available security tools. Deploying modern security tools and services will help you with the cybercrimes you know of and those that you don’t. InsITe has developed a comprehensive and proprietary suite of tools and services available in a platform bundle.  (Hint: It’s not just antivirus and a firewall) 

3.  Backup and Test Regularly 

One of the worst consequences of having your data stolen or encrypted is the possibility of never getting that data back. That’s why it’s important to regularly back up your data and test that recoveries are efficient and complete. This limits the downside of a ransomware attack and reduces the amount of downtime or data loss your organization may face if you are attacked.  

4.  Keep all Your Devices Up-to-date 

All reputable software and hardware manufacturers provide continual security updates for their supported products. There is a reason they do this! For any software or critical hardware in your business, you must make sure they are running on their current updates.  

5.  Segment Your Network   

This is the “don’t put all of your eggs in one basket” step to cybersecurity. This can include housing your data in different physical locations, or isolating your servers network from your workstation network from your production floor machine network, allowing for firewall rules between the networks. Doing so allows you to specify what workstations can talk to what servers, what servers can talk to what machines, and vice-versa. This way -- one bug, one breach, or one ransomware attack, won't shut down all aspects of your organization. 

6.  Establish Better Anti-Phishing Protection  

Phishing is one of the most well-known methods for tricking your employees into giving up information they shouldn’t. Phishing e-mails can be anything from a fake email to HR asking for your login credentials to hackers pretending to be large organizations like PayPal or Dropbox and asking for personal information.  

Anti-phishing protection will filter out emails from misspelled domains, identify common phishing spoof emails, and limit who has access to your server or database to prevent a hacker from getting information from you or your employees.  

7.  Train your Employees  

This is one of the most important steps you can take. The evolution of cybercrimes means that many hackers are getting access to data by simply asking for the login information they need to access it (social engineering). By training your employees, you can teach them about popular attacks, show them examples of what to look out for, and how to respond if an attack does occur.  

8.  Continual Monitoring  

Unfortunately, implementing a cybersecurity game plan is not a one-time solution to prevent cybercrimes. This will require continual tests, updates, and monitoring, especially as most popular time for attacks are overnight and on the weekends. Continual monitoring will help keep your network secure and reduce the possibility of a costly cyber-attack. If you are not on top of it all the time, you are behind. 
 

Where Should You Start 

Knowing the potential risks of a ransomware attack is a good first step on the road to improving your cybersecurity posture. Investing time and resources into improving your cyber hygiene will become increasingly important as time goes on.  

Unfortunately, cybersecurity will never be a “one-size fits all” solution for organizations, so it is important to evaluate your specific systems now and see if you have the internal resources to tackle this yourself, or look to a company like InsITe for their expertise.  

 

ABOUT INSITE BUSINESS SOLUTIONS:

InsITe helps businesses and manufacturing companies get the most out of current and emerging technologies with a customized IT approach to maximize growth, efficiency, insights, and productivity. InsITe is not a typical IT company selling products for short-term, short-sighted fixes. We invest in long-term solutions for a company’s growth by taking the time to learn its products, process, and business goals before bringing tech into the conversation. In this way, we become much like our Clients’ very own internal IT department with familiar faces who understand the business. 

If you have any questions about this post please leave a comment. We read and respond to all comments. Or better yet, give us a call and ask to talk directly to our Founder and CEO Mike Schipper 616-383-9000. 

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