A ransomware attack can have a devastating effect on a business. Designed to infect numerous computers and completely disrupt companies, these attacks are usually incredibly costly. Not only do ransomware attacks extort huge sums of money from a business, they can also have significant financial implications in terms of business interruption and reputational damage. Such attacks will often take a long time to recover from too, which just adds to the overall cost of the crime.
Ransomware attacks are now on the rise, and it isn’t just larger companies that are under threat. Small businesses can also be victims of ransomware. Unfortunately, many are still inadequately protected from this developing threat. In 2020, Sophos estimated that the average cost of remediating a ransomware attack is $761,106. Just half of this sum is attributed to the true cost of the ransom. The other half is down to the knock-on effects of these attacks.
With the threat of cyber crime growing ever stronger, today’s businesses need to keep their wits about them when it comes to protecting themselves from ransomware. Read on to learn all you need to know about ransomware and find out what you can do to keep your company safe from this dangerous, and potentially very costly, threat.
What is ransomware?
Ransomware is a type of malicious software which infiltrates a computer system and makes it impossible for a user to access any of their files. When a ransomware attack happens, the computer will be rendered useless until a specified ransom is paid. Usually, once this ransom has been paid, access to the computer will be restored.
Ransomware attacks tend to target individuals, but businesses too can be victims of this form of cyber crime. In some cases, attacks will infiltrate entire IT systems, bringing a whole business to a sudden, grinding halt. So, it’s vital that companies are fully aware of the dangers that ransomware poses, and that staff are fully briefed on what they can do to avoid such attacks.
How do ransomware attacks happen?
There are a few different ways in which ransomware attacks can happen. The attacks are usually spread through phishing emails, which can be sent to individuals and businesses alike. Quite often they’re then allowed in as a result of simple mistakes made by users.
Phishing emails aimed at spreading ransomware will sometimes contain an attachment, which automatically starts the attack once it’s downloaded. Some phishing emails also contain links to infected websites, which enable a ransomware attack when a user clicks on them. By clicking the link, a user unwittingly begins the download of malware which then enables a ransomware attack.
How can businesses prevent ransomware attacks?
Training is key to preventing ransomware attacks, but there are a few other things that businesses can do to protect themselves. Here are some tips from our online security experts.
Don’t overlook backups
One of the first ports of call in a ransomware attack will be your backups, so don’t overlook these. Often, you’ll be able to revert to a recent backup and restore your system to a point in time before the attack occurred.
If everything you need has been properly backed up, you’ll be able to solve the issue relatively easily, and you won’t have to pay a hefty ransom. So make sure your important files are regularly backed up, and keep these backups in a separate location which has been specifically designed for this purpose – and this purpose alone.
Prevent the delivery of malicious content
There are steps that you can take to limit the likelihood of malicious content landing on any of your devices. These include filtering, which can be used to ensure that only safe file types are opened by your device, and blocking any websites which are known to be dangerous.
Many network services offer malware protection as standard. Email providers tend to use mail filtering and spam filtering to block malicious phishing emails before they ever make it to a user’s inbox, and mail platforms will often remove dangerous attachments.
Stop malware from running on your company’s devices
If malware does make it onto one of the devices used within your business, it’s not necessarily the end of the world. There are further safety barriers that you can use to halt a potential malware attack at this point. For instance, you might choose to permit only trusted applications on your company devices, or use enterprise antivirus or anti-malware products to provide further protection from attacks.
Focus on staff training
Ransomware attacks often rely on an element of human error to facilitate them. But thankfully that’s something that all businesses can limit the risk of. It’s just a case of providing proper training, and making sure that training is refreshed at regular intervals.
Educate staff on the threat that ransomware poses, and ensure that all team members understand how such attacks occur, and what they can do to avoid them. Run practice sessions to give staff the confidence to spot a dangerous email, and make sure all team members know who to report such messages too if they receive one.
Don’t forget about updates
If software isn’t updated regularly, it can make life easier for cyber criminals. That’s why we always recommend that IT professionals manage updates on behalf of their team members, with one member of the team ultimately responsible for ensuring that all updates have been completed within the recommended time frame.
It’s all too easy to overlook updates, particularly when teams are stretched for time, but this might prove to be a costly mistake. Security updates offer a great defence from ransomware attacks, so make sure you use them.
Ransomware might seem like an obscure risk, but cyber criminals are now targeting small to medium sized businesses with increasingly advanced malicious content. Make sure you’re fully aware of the risks of ransomware to avoid becoming the next ransomware headline. If you’d like to learn more about how you can protect your company from cyber crime, get in touch with our team.