Ransomware attacks hit the headlines regularly. Such attacks can be hugely profitable for cyber criminals, and completely devastating for the businesses involved. Sophisticated ransomware attacks have the power to take down entire IT systems, encrypting vital data and bringing a business to a complete halt. The losses that result from such interruptions can be significant, and in some cases companies are left with no option but to pay eye-wateringly expensive ransoms to regain control of their own systems.
Unfortunately, ransomware attacks are on the rise. Last year saw some of the most damaging malware attacks the world has ever seen, and the capabilities of cyber criminals are intensifying as time goes on. That’s why it’s so important that companies are vigilant when it comes to cyber security.
Companies must be prepared to invest time and money into keeping their systems safe – because those that aren’t may well find themselves featuring in the next shocking ransomware story. Make sure your company isn’t a sitting duck for cyber criminals. Follow the below steps to enhance your security processes and eliminate vulnerabilities.
Training is a vital part of cyber security
When we talk about ransomware, we tend to focus on security technology like spam filters and firewalls. But there’s usually a far more human side to ransomware attacks, which is why training is so important.
Many ransomware attacks are initiated through something as simple as an attachment in a relatively innocent looking email, or a URL that doesn’t immediately raise any suspicions. If an employee clicks one of these links, or downloads one of these attachments, they can unwittingly set a catastrophic chain of events in motion.
The only way to be confident that employees won’t open the doors to cyber criminals is through regular training and awareness exercises. Teach staff to identify phishing emails, and encourage them to be cautious when opening any unexpected links or attachments. Make training a key part of your security strategy; it’s a worthwhile investment.
Make use of cutting edge security technology
Technology is on your side, so use it. There are a whole host of different filters and firewalls that can be used to limit the dangers posed by cyber attacks, many of which your company may already be aware of. Commonly used cyber security measures include web content filtering, URL filtering, spam filters and web application firewalls.
It’s a good idea to audit your existing security measures, and double check that your company is making full use of all available protection. This exercise will also help you to identify vulnerabilities in your security, and improve safeguarding processes where necessary.
Update software regularly to avoid unnecessary exposures
Almost all of the software that companies use every day will require regular patches and upgrades to keep it in tip top condition. Yet far too many businesses are guilty of overlooking these updates. In terms of security, this is a big risk factor.
The WannaCry ransomware attacks of 2017, which targeted companies all over the world, could have been far less damaging if software had been kept up to date. Speaking to Time Magazine, Jerome Segura, a Malwarebytes security researcher said, “This whole disaster could have been prevented if people had patched their system.”
Out of date software can be used by cyber criminals looking for an easy way into your company’s systems. A considerable number of attacks have begun in exactly this way. It’s so dangerous, in fact, that some cyber security professionals often refer to it as leaving your back door open for cyber criminals. Make sure your door is shut, bolted and fully protected by being vigilant about software patches, and updating software as often as possible.
Make sure your business has a plan of action
Companies usually have a strategy when it comes to defending themselves against cyber attacks. But too few businesses have a concrete plan of action should the worst actually happen. As we’ve seen from past cyber attacks, even the most well protected systems can sometimes become victims of highly sophisticated ransomware. So it’s well worth thinking about what your team would do in the event of an attack.
Having a plan of action isn’t just good practice in terms of security, it can also be incredibly helpful for your staff. Watching a ransomware attack unfold can be a frightening experience, and untrained team members are often unsure about who to call, and what to do first. If you have a plan and staff are clued up on what needs to happen, they’ll be confident enough to act quickly and decisively. And this could make all the difference to your overall response.
Remember, ransomware isn’t just financially damaging. It can also have a dramatic effect on a company’s overall reputation, shattering trust and leaving customers with a bad impression. So a swift, considered response is enormously important. Create a detailed plan of action and assign responsibilities to skilled members of staff to make sure your company reacts in the best possible way if a criminal does gain access to your systems.
In many cases, companies ultimately decide to pay ransoms in order to regain access to encrypted data as quickly as possible. Consider whether or not your company would act in a similar way, and review cyber security insurance policies to ensure that your business is adequately protected from this growing threat.
Ransomware attacks target businesses of all sizes; even the smallest companies aren’t immune to the dangers they pose. The potential damage that ransomware can cause is immeasurable, which is why companies must do all they can to protect themselves from cyber crime such as this.
Check that your company is up to date with all software patches and upgrades, make sure you’re utilising all available security technology and invest time in training team members on the threat of cyber crime. By doing so you’ll stay one step ahead of mercenary cyber criminals, and you’ll stand a far better chance of steering clear of a ransomware attack.