Ransomware attacks have evolved from inconvenient viruses launched by deviant hackers, to sophisticated systems that adopt the same practices and tactics of the corporate businesses they target. Ransomware is a form of malicious software designed to exploit digital systems by infiltrating a network, then denying access to the rightful owners. Ransomware allows hackers to hold a device, company data, or an entire network hostage, until the victim cedes to their demands.
Ransomware Attacks Start with Trust
Hackers are experts in the art of disguise. It all starts with an alluring façade, a convincing email or an offer from what appears to be a trusted source, in order to earn your trust. Once they hook your attention, it only takes a single link to compromise your data. What’s more, hackers routinely hunt for vulnerabilities in digital networks in order to capitalize on opportunity.
According to Cybercrime Magazine, the annual cost of cybercrime is expected to hit $6 trillion by 2021.
Cybercriminals create access points into your business that are disguised as trustworthy websites, downloadable content, or must-have software. It’s far more subtle than you might think.
Where Ransomware Attacks Lurk
- Phishing emails.
- Downloadable content.
- Malicious websites.
- Unsecure VPNs (virtual private networks).
You could have encrypted malware in your system without even knowing. In April 2020, IT services provider, Cognizant, suffered a cyberattack by the operators of the Maze ransomware. It was later discovered that the enterprise-targeting ransomware was present in their systems for weeks without their knowledge. In October 2020, retail supplier Barnes & Noble made the news as a victim of the Egregor ransomware attack that prevented users of the Nook digital reader from accessing content and services.
Businesses need a line of defense against ransomware attacks. Subtle lines of code disguised as helpful content, emails, links, or software, could obliterate your business and destroy its credibility. Take these ransomware prevention steps, so you can ensure that your business is more secure and you won’t be left in a vulnerable position.
How to Prevent a Ransomware Attack
- Educate yourself and your employees.
- Back up data and do so often.
- Strengthen passwords and use biometric IDs.
- Choose a security provider you can trust.
- Have a ransomware response plan.
Knowledge is power
Ransomware prevention starts with knowledge. Almost 90% of cyber-attacks are caused by human error or behavior. That said, almost 90% of cyber-attacks could be avoided with the proper awareness and procedures in place. Hold regular training sessions to keep employees briefed on the latest scams. This will equip you and your employees with the insight you all need to keep your company safe.
Back It Up
Don’t let cybercrime destroy your business. Sensitive information should be backed up daily and stored on a secure server or remote drive. In the event a cybercriminal gains access to your network, you can wipe your systems and still have the information you need to keep your company operational.
What’s the Password?
Create user-specific passwords that aren’t easily decoded and vary your passwords across platforms. Using the same password for your email account as your bank account puts you at risk. Don’t use any personally identifying pieces of information in your passwords. The more your passwords have a direct relation to your name, birthdate, or interests, the more likely a hacker is to decode an access point.
Pair a strong password with two-factor authentication. A hacker may debunk your password, but without access to your biometric identifiers – such as your eyes, fingerprint, or face – they’d instantly be denied access. A clever criminal can steal your password, but they can’t steal your eyes or face… well, they could, but ransomware attacks would be the least of your worries.
Be Aware of Network Access
Ensure you access sensitive information using secured connections. Mobile devices are everywhere – that’s the whole point. These devices aren’t just convenient modes of accessing information when you need it, they can also act as access points for hackers. While traveling, disable your device’s remote connectivity, as well as automatic Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections. Only connect to networks you know are trustworthy.
Choose a security provider that regularly assesses their client’s digital portfolio. Ransomware prevention and anti-virus software can be effective in stopping attacks before they start. Recruiting a security provider that examines security architecture, conducts penetration testing, and enforces firewalls further mitigates risk and protects company assets.
Concerned About Ransomware Attacks? Good.
If you’re now concerned about ransomware attacks, that means you’ve learned something and have taken the first step in ransomware prevention. With many businesses depending on their digital platforms to survive the recent shift to remote work, there are more opportunities than ever before for ransomware attacks to occur. Your information needs to be protected. You’ve worked hard on your business. Don’t leave your company and your livelihood vulnerable to cybercrime.
To that end, Next Horizon is offering a complimentary IT security assessment that includes a security risk report, consolidated security report card, and an external vulnerability scan. Next Horizon is a technology company that specializes in cybersecurity for small and mid-size businesses.
Next Horizon provides holistic technology solutions for businesses looking to improve sales, increase agility and optimize productivity. From deploying dedicated development teams to building bespoke business applications, Next Horizon uses its 40+ years of experience and award-winning talent to provide technical business solutions for its clients.