Protecting Your Business Against a Ransomware Attack

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As you’re probably well aware, cyber-attacks are on the rise. This week, Australia’s first online census was disrupted for several days, by a sustained series of attacks. For small businesses and large organizations alike, it’s becoming increasingly important to establish security protocol and data protection mechanisms to stay safe. One particular threat to guard against is ransomware attack.

What are Ransomware Attacks?

For centuries, criminals have used ransoms to gain access to money or other specific demands. Traditionally, though, the ransom involves the kidnapping of an individual or the theft of an important physical asset.

In 2016, we’re seeing an entirely new type of ransom where hackers access infected systems, encrypt files, and then send a message telling the server’s administrator that the only way to get the files back is by paying a steep ransom.

Known as ransomware, this kind of attack isn’t a rare occurrence, explains Zetta, a leader in cloud backup and recovery solutions. In one recent two-month period, at least a quarter of a million computers were targeted with about $27 million in payments made by users desperate for the return of their data, according to the FBI.

ransomware attacks.
Ransomware attacks – a growing problem.

3 Ransomware Protection Tips

The problem with ransomware attacks is that they are virtually untraceable. In fact, the FBI generally lets businesses know that their best course of action is to simply negotiate a lower ransom and pay it out.

In order to avoid paying a high ransom to gain access to your files, its important that you prevent your files from being compromised in the first place. Here are a few ransomware protection tips that experts suggest:

  • Take a Layered Security Approach

Having a layered approach to security is one of the cliches of modern infrastructure, but for repelling ransomware, it should be taken seriously, says Dan Raywood of Computer Weekly. This means using a combination of anti-virus solutions, firewalls, web filtering, and complex passwords.

But it is not enough to simply install security solutions and let them sit. You also need to ensure you’re keeping them updated. Installing patches and new versions ensures vulnerabilities on previous forms are no longer issues.

  • Authenticate Inbound Email

Email is one of the most common entry points for hackers. They’ll send strategic emails that appear to be from someone you know and include an attachment that you believe needs to be opened. Once the malicious attachment is opened, the ransomware is downloaded onto your system and your files are compromised.

The best way to avoid issues like these is to implement an inbound email authentication process. The ideal solution is to validate the origin of the email by analyzing the IP address and cross referencing against the domain of the server. There are tools that can help you do this and it is a much safer strategy than simply opening every attachment you get from a coworker or friend.

  • Think Twice Before Clicking

Avoiding ransomware attacks requires a total organizational effort. Everyone from entry-level employees all the way up to the C-suite needs to understand whats at stake. Specifically, you should encourage employees to think twice before clicking. Attacks can be deployed via seemingly innocuous hyperlinks on social media platforms, instant messengers, websites, and everything in between.

Take Action Today

Ransomware is becoming a major problem in the world of cyber security. Its particularly scary because of the fact that authorities find it challenging to track down the criminals and bring them to justice. As a result, they have free reign to target as many individuals and businesses as thy can.

Your only hope of surviving a ransomware attack is prevention. Establish stronger security walls and coach your team on the specific ways they can prevent malicious hackers from getting inside.

Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn’t know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.