For many years now, ransomware attacks have been a dangerous threat not just to end users, but also to businesses of all sizes. Cybercriminals are constantly targeting organizations because they typically have a lot of sensitive data that hackers can use for personal or financial gain. Unfortunately, many firms aren’t securing their systems quickly enough.
Recently, three Ontario hospitals were infected with the “Ryuk” ransomware, which forced the institutions to take down their email systems, make healthcare records harder to access, and make patients wait longer to be serviced.
According to Statistics Canada, the national rate of police-reported extortion rose to 44% in 2018. With ransomware attacks quickly rising, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the FBI are advising organizations not to pay the criminals, as this will only encourage them to keep on infecting others.
As dangerous as ransomware can be, your company can proactively avoid it. Here are some handy tips you can follow to keep your data safe from hackers:
#1. Keep your systems up to date
Ransomware typically exploits vulnerabilities in programs installed on PCs. For instance, the WannaCry ransomware was able to make its way into machines using the Windows XP operating system (OS) because Microsoft had already ceased support for that OS.
When an OS reaches its end of life, its vendor stops providing security updates, exposing its users to cyberthreats. It is therefore crucial that users migrate to a more modern OS like Windows 10 to keep on receiving security patches that keep ransomware and other types of malware at bay.
Additionally, ensure that your antivirus software regularly receives definition updates. Cybercriminals are always coming up with new ransomware variants, and antivirus updates contain the latest files needed to combat malware and prevent them from doing any damage to your system.
#2. Create disconnected backups
Many ransomware variants have the ability to make the victim’s system inoperable, so restoring a PC from a cloud backup or a shadow volume copy will be a futile effort.
To mitigate the risk of losing all your sensitive data, keep copies of all your important files in external storage systems such as memory cards, flash and external hard drives, CDs/DVDs, or magnetic tapes. This way, even if ransomware encrypts the files in your computers, you can safely access another copy as soon as the infection is cleaned up.
#3. Invest in multilayered security
Having multiple layers of cybersecurity protection can prevent ransomware from infecting your systems. Here is a sample multilayered security plan you can follow for your business:
- Assess your current security setup. You can use an antivirus program with active monitoring that can detect any virus, spyware, botnet, or Trojan horse currently in your system, as well as warn you about web services that lead to malicious content.
- Invest in a complete email protection system. Email is the preferred entry point of ransomware, so protecting this medium can significantly help in preventing attacks. This doesn’t simply mean applying a spam filter, however. Your business will need phishing protection, end-to-end encryption, and data loss protection.
- Implement web content filtering. To trick users into downloading malware, cybercriminals are using websites that appear to be from a trusted company. Web content filtering automatically blocks these pages so it’s less likely for your users to inadvertently infect your systems with ransomware.
- Use a next-generation firewall. An intrusion prevention system (IPS) is a critical component of any firewall, as it thoroughly inspects network traffic to identify vulnerabilities and block them before they can be exploited.
- Invest in endpoint security. Some legacy antivirus solutions rely on signatures or identifiers on ransomware. They cannot detect shapeshifting code and other advanced behaviors modern ransomware use to avoid detection. Endpoint security can proactively monitor and fight ransomware as they evolve.
#4. Educate your employees
Cybersecurity solutions can protect your systems from ransomware, but remember that your employees are your weakest link, so you need to train them accordingly.
The primary task is general awareness. Teach your employees what ransomware is and how it works. Next, show how reliant the malware is on tricking users into opening a link or downloading an attachment. Lastly, teach them how to avoid ransomware such as refraining from clicking suspicious links or downloading potentially harmful attachments.
To test their comprehension, you can run a ransomware simulator test across your network to see how your employees will respond. Once you have gathered the results, train those who struggled with the exercise.
Security threats like ransomware can cause a lot of trouble for your IT infrastructure. Binatech takes your worries away by providing the best network solutions in Hamilton, Mississauga, and Buffalo. Our antivirus, firewall, and content filtering solutions will prevent malware from damaging your systems 24/7/365. Interested? Call and partner with us today.