How to Protect Your Organization From Ransomware
Learn how to protect your business from ransomware. Look at the average ransom and the time businesses lose access to files. Get cybersecurity help in Fort Worth.
Recently, the Fort Worth Independent School District was hit with a ransomware attack. Although the attack did not compromise any significant data, it created extra work for the district’s IT team, and it may have compromised the district’s ability to move classes online amid the coronavirus.
Ransomware attacks are not new in the Fort Worth area, and in fact, this attack follows a string of attacks on small businesses and communities throughout the region. If you are not taking steps to protect your organization from ransomware, you need to be aware of the risk and implement protective strategies now.
What is ransomware? Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts your files and prevents you from gaining access to them. If you’ve been infected by ransomware, you usually see a notification on your screen, demanding a ransom in exchange for an encryption key so you can regain access to your data.
Some cybercriminals mimic ransomware, and in these cases, a screen blocker may be the only issue. Generally, an IT professional can efficiently resolve that issue for you. Before paying a ransom or addressing a ransomware attack, always contact a cybersecurity specialist to help you.
Paying the Ransom
If you decide to pay the ransom, you usually have to dispatch the funds using bitcoin or some other type of cryptocurrency. In most cases, once you pay, you receive the encryption key and can access your files right away. But in some cases, the cybercriminal may demand more money and refuse to send you the key.
Protecting Yourself From Ransomware
To protect your business, you need to take proactive measures to defend yourself from ransomware. In particular, you can minimize your risk with these practices:
- Back up files on site and in the cloud daily. This gives you a backup copy of all your data, reducing your vulnerability if you are attacked.
- Educate your employees about the risks. Often cybercriminals gain access to a company through its employees. The more your employees understand the risks, the more protection your company has.
- Do not open attachments from unknown senders. Ideally, you should not open any attachments unless you were expecting them. When trying to infect a system with ransomware or other types of malware, cybercriminals may send messages from addresses that look familiar. Delete anything that looks suspicious.
- Enable strong SPAM filters on your email systems.
- Invest in quality cybersecurity tools such as antivirus software, antimalware software, business-grade firewalls, DNS filtering, etc..
- Create tiers of access to sensitive data. Don’t give access across the board. Only let employees have access to data on an as-needed basis.
- Implement a disaster recovery and business continuity plan that outlines how you avoid attacks and the steps you will take if an attack occurs. A plan can help to minimize productivity losses in the aftermath of an attack.
- Set up firewalls to block access to IP addresses that are known to be malicious or risky.
- Make sure your antivirus tools scan your system regularly.
- Consider automating patching to detect and eliminate vulnerabilities in your network.
- Look into solutions such as application whitelisting that prevent your network from executing any files that have not been approved under your security policy. Typically, if the malware cannot execute, the ransomware cannot take over access to your data.
- Work with an IT services company that understands cybersecurity. When choosing a company, talk with them about their cybersecurity experience and ask about the measures they can take to help protect you.
A ransomware attack can lose your business time and cost you money. At the end of 2019, the average ransom was over $80,000, and on average, infected organizations couldn’t access their files for 16 days.