Over the past 12 months Ransomware has shot to the forefront of global media following a number of high profile attacks. One of the most notorious incidents was when the NHS fell victim in May 2017. This became one of largest cyberattacks in history and is said to have cost the NHS £1 billion in downtime and subsequent efforts to tighten security.
So what exactly is Ransomware? Put simply, it’s a form of cyberattack which takes computer systems hostage and forces end users to pay a ransom to regain access.
The malicious software has been around for years but there’s been a significant rise in the number of incidents this year. The Kaspersky Malware Report showed a 250% increase in Ransomware attacks during the first quarter of 2017.
It’s therefore no surprise that businesses are taking action to ensure they are protected against this potentially crippling threat. So, without further ado, here’s a roundup of tips to help you protect your business from Ransomware.
As a business owner, you’ll know the drill with backup. It’s such an essential process to help ensure your files and business information stays safe. However, it’s surprising how many people fail to ensure they have a solid backup system in place.
To avoid falling victim to the effects of a Ransomware attack, backing up your systems is crucial. With so many methods now available there really is no excuse for not having something effective in place. Many people choose external hard drives and USB sticks but, be wary as some Ransomware software such as CryptoLocker can access these devices if they are linked to your computer or network.
Cloud storage can be a great alternative to more traditional methods as although it is not 100% immune from Ransomware, certain measures can be taken to make your data more secure. It’s also a much more cost effective way of securing your files. Find out more about how we can help you with a cloud solution here.
Ensuring you have a secure backup system in place will stand you in a much better position should an attack happen as you can completely wipe the infected hardware and restore it with your backups.
We have a secure and dedicated off site backup service suitable for all business types. The price starts from as little as £11 and and means you can rest easy knowing we’re keeping regular backups of your business critical data! Click here to find out more.
2. Be vigilant
It goes without saying really that clicking on dubious pop-ups or URLs is never a good idea. However, Ransomware hackers are now deploying much more sophisticated tactics, making attacks more difficult for end users to detect.
Attacks come in a range of forms including phishing emails, fake downloads and malicious URLs all prompting users to enter details. As end users are key targets for Ransomware, it is important that your staff are educated on what to look for. Here’s a few key traits:
- Messages or pop ups claiming to be from authoritative bodies such as the police, HMRC and banks/building societies
- Attacks sometimes claim to have outstanding invoices and ask users for payment
- Messages with alleged crimes asking for online payment of a fine
- Request for payments through voucher systems such as Ukash rather than a usual bank transfer.
Ensuring that your employees are clued up on what to look out for will help mitigate risk to your business. This can be done through implementing a user training program or holding a briefing session for staff.
3. Use Antivirus software
No matter what size business you operate, it is vital that you have antivirus software across all systems. This is an important way of reducing the risk of a Ransomware attack in ensuring that your IT infrastructure is protected. It’s also vital that your antivirus protection is up to date as old software is pretty much as useless and having no software.
Ransomware attackers are becoming more and more advanced meaning that old antivirus protection can be extremely vulnerable. Check the software you are currently using to ensure it can cope with this level of risk. If not, it’s worth doing some research to find a more suitable solution. If you’re unsure as to which antivirus software package is the best fit for your business, get in touch and a member of our team will be more than happy to provide assistance and advice. You can get in touch by calling us on 01244 56 99 28.
4. Update your existing software
It’s so easy to click ‘remind me later’ when a software update pops up but doing so could prove detrimental. These updates include patches which scan and fix any holes in your security, making your system less vulnerable. The more you put off the scan the higher risk you’ll have as Ransomware seeks out insecure operating systems.
This is one to really watch, especially if you have a small business. Larger corporations have in house IT teams to look after regular updates however, with smaller businesses it falls with you to keep on top of this. Unfortunately, many don’t which is why small businesses are prime target for Ransomware attackers.
5. Be prepared
Like any legitimate threat to your business, you need to have a clear strategy in case an attack strikes. Have a think about what you’d need if the worst did happen. Things like spare computers which will help ensure your down time is kept to an absolute minimum – as we all know, time is money.
Creating a clear response plan so you can act efficiently in the event of an attack will allow you to mitigate the amount of damage that does take place. Once you have a plan, it’s worth testing the process so you are familiar with all necessary actions.
6. Don’t pay the ransom
This is a sure fire way of showing the hackers that they are in control, making them more likely to continue. Plus, in a lot of cases there’s no proof that those who paid actually retrieved their files. The best thing to do is ensure you are prepared, that way, if your files do get encrypted, you will have a backup to restore to and it won’t cause a detrimental loss to your business.