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5 Concrete Steps to Keep Ransomware at Bay

by Soft2share.com

Everyone is aware of computer viruses. Since the dawn of the digital era, cybercriminals are trying to find ways to get into systems. Whether it be money or information they are trying to extract, the danger is ever-present. Lately, these types of threats are on the decline. Antivirus software has become very sophisticated. This made it very hard for viruses and worms to be effective. What is on the rise though, are ransomware attacks. These are increasing in frequency exponentially each year. Also, the money spent on paying the demands is increasing as people are falling into the trap. The repercussions are also escalating. It is no longer enough to threaten the alienation of data. Now, ransomers are threatening to leak confidential and sensitive data. This is what is called “double extortion.” In this article, we will cover the best ways to prevent your company from becoming the next victim.

1. The definition

What exactly is a ransomware attack? In order to protect ourselves, we need to know what we are dealing with. Ransomware attacks are utilizing something called cryptography. This is used to encrypt a piece of data using a password of sorts. We can see how this can be used for illegal and illegitimate purposes. If someone were to gain access to your system, they could encrypt a vital piece of data. Naturally, you will not have the password used to unlock it. The idea is to pay a certain amount to the ransomers in order for them to give you the decryption key. This is straightforward enough, at least on paper. There is nothing that guarantees that your data will be brought back to you safe and sound. The victim is at the hands of the criminals. It is also very difficult if not impossible to recover the affected data.

2. The “Why?”

Why do ransomware attacks occur in the first place? Illegal financial gain is the obvious reason but not the only one. Other ransomware attacks can be a mixture of political or personal motivations. From your point of view, it does not matter. What matter is to determine the most common channels through which these attacks occur. Spam and phishing emails are the results of poor user security practices. Most likely, the user is uneducated on how to recognise phishing attacks. The most common avenue of approach is a weak user password. These can easily be cracked with brute-force methods or wordlists. Once these are open, the criminals can have complete access to your data. Lastly, remote desktop access is caused by insufficient computer system security patches and practices. There are more methods, but we have covered the most common ones.

3. Prepare for the worst

Now that we know what we are dealing with, we can be proactive and do something about it. It may seem a bit pessimistic, but always expecting the worst is a good strategy. You need to implement a backup strategy. This will not prevent a ransomware attack. But at least, you will be able to recover the missing data without actually engaging the cybercriminals. Do note, not all backup strategies are equal. Back up your data to a remote location. This will also ensure that your data is safe from any fires, floods or other unrelated elements that might cause damage to it. Of course, this will not prevent the encrypted data from being released to the public if you decide to not pay the ransom. Cloud backup is also an option if you do not mind the fees and the questionable privacy practices. 

4. Proper education

Educate your employees on the dangers and manifestations of ransomware attacks. A vast majority of successful cyber-attacks are effective because of user error. These can usually be traced back to an individual employee. They never meant any harm, it is just that they were unaware of what they were doing. Most likely, they opened an email message from an unknown sender. On other occasions, they have downloaded a non-work-related file somewhere from the internet. The employees need to be able to recognize all of these. Having anti-malware software is not good enough, as to these, it will seem like a completely legitimate email or file. Antivirus software is good at recognizing viruses, it is a different issue with other forms of malware. Also, make them understand the consequences of not adhering to these security standards. Otherwise, they will not take this initiative on your part seriously enough.

5. Security infrastructure

The end-user is usually the weakest link in the cyber-security chain. If we have remedied that, we can move on to other aspects of security. Make sure you have antivirus software on every point of your system. Also, it needs to be up to date. These pieces of software will do most of the work, but not all of it. Multifactor authentication is another brilliant method of keeping your logins safe, implement it anywhere you can. Firewalls are at the first line of defence in your company. These vary in size and performance, depending on the scale of your business. They can be physical or purely software-based. Lastly, consider hiring professional IT managed service providers. Especially for small businesses, that do not yet have the budgets for dedicated IT security departments, this can prove to be a lifesaver option. 

Make cybersecurity a priority. Modern technologies have made it incredibly easy for anyone to break into a digital system. Equip yourself with the knowledge and the tools to withstand anything, today.

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