One particularly malicious form of malware is ransomware. As the name suggests, the infection ends up taking something away from you and the hacker demands a ransom to return it.
In this case, it’s all your data. Once the ransomware makes its way into your network, it begins encrypting files to make them unusable, and basically brings your office to a standstill. Then the perpetrator demands to be paid a ransom, usually in the form of bitcoin, to return your data to a usable state.
Ransomware attacks increased 195% in the first quarter of 2019. They remain a costly threat for small businesses and large organizations alike. Approximately $3.6 million in losses due to ransomware were reported to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center in 2018.
Recent ransomware attacks in Florida that hit municipalities include Lake City, FL that paid $460,000 to unlock its computers after an attack, and Riviera Beach, FL that said it would have to pay ransomware hackers up to $600,000.
While good malware and virus removal tools can help you eradicate ransomware after the fact, adopting security best practices can help keep you from getting infected in the first place and suffering costly consequences.
Adopting Good Cybersecurity is Your Best Defense
When it comes to ransomware attacks, they can happen in a number of ways, which is why protecting yourself with a layer of security best practices is your best defense.
Some of the most popular ways an attacker can gain access to your device or network are:
- Phishing emails
- Drive by download
- Malicious website link
Here are the security best practices that can help you avoid becoming a ransomware victim.
1. Have a Good Data Backup and Recovery System
The easiest way to pull the rug out from under a ransomware attacker is to have another copy of your data backed up in a system that can easily restore it to a clean device. This negates the need to pay a ransom, though you will still need to pay to have the ransomware removed and your devices cleaned up.
But that’s a fraction of the cost of what a hacker will demand from you and can minimize costly downtime once you realize your data has been hacked.
Backup best practices mean using the 3-2-1 backup rule:
- Keep 3 copies of your data
- Ensure 2 copies are backed up on different media
- Keep 1 backup copy offsite (i.e. a cloud backup)
2. Use Anti-Phishing & Anti-Malware Software
Both anti-phishing and anti-malware software are important to have installed on your system. Anti-malware can detect any intrusions in your network and help eradicate threats before they infect your system.
Anti-phishing software is specifically designed to keep dangerous phishing emails out of your users’ inboxes by identifying them in advance. Anti-phishing apps can also help safeguard employees from clicking on malicious links in phishing emails.
3. Use Next Generation Firewall
Another important layer in your IT security is a firewall, which will protect your network as a whole, rather than just a single device. They’re designed to monitor traffic, prevent suspicious traffic from getting in, and help keep your entire network from being the superhighway malware to travels to reach multiple devices.
4. Use Good Password Security Practices
Weak or compromised passwords are responsible for the majority of data breaches. That means that using good password security practices will significantly increase your data security defenses.
The most helpful practices to adopt when it comes to your login credentials are:
- Use of two-factor authentication to require a code be input at the time of login.
- Employing a password management application that secures multiple passwords in a password vault.
- Requiring strong passwords be used with a combination of letters, symbols, numbers and at least 7-10 characters in length.
5. Ongoing Cybersecurity Training
Your employees are often the last line of defense against a ransomware infection. Conducting regular cybersecurity training on how to spot and avoid clicking on a phishing email, the importance of password security, and other security best practices can go a long way towards beefing up your defenses.
6. Apply Updates and Patches Regularly
Unapplied updates and patches to software and operating systems are often the cause of malware attacks. These updates may be annoying to have to apply when you’re in the middle of something, but they typically contain patches to security flaws that have been exploited by hackers.
An easy way to ensure all your company’s devices are being updated regularly and are secure is to sign up for a managed IT services plan. Then you never have to wonder if one of your employee’s unpatched devices is the weak link in your IT security network.
Don’t Leave Your IT Security to Chance!
Hackers are out there trying to get into small business networks daily. Don’t leave your IT security to chance or you could end up becoming their next ransomware victim.
Contact Cris’s Tech Repair today for an IT security assessment, and sleep easy tomorrow.