How to Expertly Protect Your Business from Ransomware
Ransomware Removal In Atlanta & Charlotte
Not all hackers are out to steal data. Since the dawn of business technology, companies and hackers have been on opposing sides. From the first phone phreaks hacking physical phone lines to today’s malware infiltrators, hackers have been seeking ways to disrupt the industry and shake a little “free” money from the system. Most of the time, it’s assumed that hacker attacks are out to steal data – to later be used in scams for profit. However, sometimes a hacker’s primary goal is to damage the targeted business and to shake money out of them directly. That is exactly what ransomware is designed to do.
In October of 2020 when COVID cases were flooding hospitals, a ransomware attack caused network outages in six different hospitals within 24 hours. The outages included not only the hospital computers but also many networked medical devices keeping patients alive. The attack shut down systems, putting patients in danger and interrupting life-saving procedures. Each hospital faced a demand of $1 million or more. It was discovered that there is a total list of 400 hospitals slated to be targeted.
If hackers are willing to attack hospitals during a dire health crisis, they’ll attack anyone. In fact, ransomware is a growing trend among hackers. Ransomware programs are shared on the darknet so that even hackers without programming skills can use this destructive tactic. So why is ransomware so effective and dangerous – and how can you protect yourself? That is exactly what we’re here to help you explore.
What is Ransomware?
Ransomware is software designed to hold the target hostage or, more specifically, to hold your computer system and data for ransom. First, the ransomware program must infiltrate your system. It can do this through a clicked phishing email, a malicious visited website, or even false customer information uploaded onto your servers.
Once the ransomware is on your system it might strike immediately or it might lurk until a time of the hacker’s choosing. Some types of ransomware will move from the originally infected workstation onto your network and systems throughout the network.
When the ransomware strikes, it encrypts every single file it can reach through your network. Then a ransom message is delivered – pay the demands in the currency asked (usually a cryptocurrency) or never see your precious data again.
The Cost of a Ransomware Attack
The terrible thing about ransomware is the damage it can do. What happens when a business is suddenly severed from its network and all the data therein? Depending on how your computers, server, and network are designed the effects could be disastrous. Even if your business is not a hospital or medical clinic, hundreds to thousands of people can be hurt by ransomware. Not only do you lose access to static data like your project files and client information, you also lose the ability to even use the devices and workstations that are connected to the network. Some businesses lose years – even decades – of data in addition to the critical interruption in business.
Downtime has its own cost as your team is unable to reach and respond to customers outside the business. If you host your own website, even your web presence could be down which loses you business and damages your reputation.
If you don’t pay the ransom and your data is never recovered, this could permanently damage your business.
How to Protect Your Business from Ransomware
Fortunately, ransomware is only a piece of malware. If you know how to protect your business and your network, then the risk of an attack decreases significantly. With the right solutions, you can even recover from a ransomware attack as long as you are ready. Let’s run down the list of tools and methods you can use to keep your business safe from even the most nefarious type of hacker attack.
Phishing is the primary way that malware gets into business networks. A bait email is sent to one of your employees and they click it. Often, these emails are built specifically with the target or goal in mind. The email might seem small and unimportant, though just as often it is worded to strike fear (and lack of caution) into the targeted employee who reads it.
Fortunately, there are already anti-phishing solutions. The leading method is email scanning. This is software that recognizes common patterns in phishing emails like spoofed sender accounts and suspicious phrasing. Email scanning can block suspicious emails or flag them so employees can make a more informed decision about what they should click.
Many IP addresses and web domains are known to be malicious. This list has been collected from millions of reported hacks, infected websites, and sources of spam. DNS is how your network decides which IP addresses get to contact the business devices. With DNS filtering, your network will automatically refuse connection from any known bad-actors and suspected domains.
This provides significant protection against both malicious websites and malicious links to these sites inside phishing messages. DNS filtering protects not only against phishing emails with links, but also links to malicious addresses from other channels like instant messaging, customer service requests, and even social media.
The next form of protection is monitoring your own network. Network monitoring can cover everything from your server CPU temperature to user logins and everything in between. What this oversight provides is the ability to spot lurking malware before it strikes. First, your network monitoring team learns the usual patterns of your business computer activity. Then any unusual activity can be flagged.
Ransomware acts differently than your usual programs. It uses computer resources to run in the background and it threads outward through your network after the initial infection. With close network monitoring, these suspicious actions can help detect and stop ransomware before it has a chance to trigger.
Virus-scanning software is designed to catch malware that is built-in predictable ways – as hacker programs often are. Running regular scans increases your chance of catching ransomware that is functioning in a pattern known to existing computer viruses. Advanced virus scanning software can be used to scan files, downloads, computers, and your entire network if properly configured and run by a skilled team.
Backup and Recovery
Lastly, a good backup is worth its data storage in gold. What happens when ransomware takes out your network and servers is essentially data deletion. The more comprehensive your backup – and with a recovery plan ready – the faster your company will be up and running after an attack without paying the ransom.
Cybersecurity Partnership as a Protection Plan
Protecting your business from ransomware and other hacker attacks is a full-time job. The tech stack does not work on its own, protection also requires constant observation and regularly optimizing your company’s security measures to protect against the latest threat developments. Implementing the defenses, monitoring your network, and updating software security patches take an experienced IT security team.
Fortunately for most businesses, you don’t have to handle this in-house. Your team can focus on your core business model by partnering with a security IT team dedicated to helping the industry stay safe. Contact us today to consult on your plan to defend against the dangers of ransomware and other hacker attacks on your business.