How to Avoid Having Your Business Hit by Ransomware

You go to log in, and you’re totally locked out of everything on your network. To boot, there’s a message requiring you pay tens of thousands of dollars to get the data back. Congratulations, you’ve just been blindsided by ransomware–like many businesses before you. What do you do? 

What Is Ransomware?

Ransomware does essentially this: it uses stolen or altered encryptions–often of a military grade–to lock you out of your data. It then demands you pay a ransom. If you don’t pay the ransom in a preset period of time, your network or computer’s data could be erased.

Some ransomware doesn’t have a time limit, but most does, as this is an incentive for targets to pay. Additionally, virus developers tend to want that payment in cryptocurrency, as it’s relatively untraceable. 

Aspects To Consider As You Develop Security

While ransomware viruses become decommissioned and more effectively defended against over time, this sort of cybercrime is still a big concern in today’s tech environment. Your business–large or small–needs to have some level of preparedness. Working with Managed Service Providers (MSP) can help you educate and safeguard yourself. This is one of a few things to consider as you go about determining how best to handle ransomware. Below are several more weighty issues to keep in mind.

43% Of Cyber Attacks Target SMBs–Examples To Consider

There are a variety of cyber attacks that target small businesses. In fact, some 43% of all cyber attacks are focused on SMBs. This is for a variety of reasons, not least of which being the vulnerability of smaller businesses. Businesses rushing to add new types technology to help them keep running during the COVID-19 pandemic provides another vulnerability.

An operation with under a hundred employees operating locally may not consider itself a risk to foreign hackers. However, cybercrime is a multi-trillion dollar global industry that’s about the same in terms of economic impact as traditional “white hat” technology.

Accordingly, there are “black hat” startups which will develop their own small business profit models around cybercriminal enterprise. China is notorious for this, behind only the U.S. in global cybercrime; but North Korea made a cameo in 2017 with its notorious WannaCry virus, which affected businesses in 150 countries through a Server Message Block (SMB) port vulnerability.

This back door was preprogrammed into certain tech, and such information became public through a leak in March of 2017. North Korea then manufactured a virus that hit in May of that year. Businesses with automatic or otherwise prescient patching protocols were able to safeguard systems in advance of the attack, but others weren’t so lucky.

WannaCry isn’t the only attack that’s had such massive impact, either. Petya swept out from the Ukraine in 2016, the Tojan virus TeslaCrypt targeted online games with massive player bases in the same year, and RobbinHood took Baltimore government infrastructure over in May of 2019. 

Managed IT services help provide you with up-to-date protocols pertaining to personnel activity on the web, monitoring services, and antivirus software that can identify hidden malware. Additionally, MSPs provide up-to-date firewall protections and automated patching, which is essential in applying the latest defenses. 

Ransomware Attacks And Risks To Watch Out For, What It Costs To Get Hit

Ransomware attacks come in many flavors. There are phishing attacks which get login data, allowing hackers direct access. Trojan viruses can hide in third-party applications, “galloping” out to take your system ransom at a time opportune to the hackers. On the internet, many suspicious activities go on designed to “sneak” varying viruses on your network. Training personnel through the right MSP can be key in helping avoid this.

It’s essential to have firewalls and antivirus protocols in place, updating these protection measures as this becomes necessary. The cost of an attack could be as high as bankruptcy, owing to PR fallout and direct cost, or as small as the value of a BitCoinSome estimates put impact of ransomware at $55k for corporations, annually. MSP support deferring this cost pays for itself collaterally.

Additionally, managed IT services can be fundamental here, as they must provide cutting-edge security to multiple clients in a competitively viable way. They’ll be very likely to offer solutions such as automatic patch management, firewalls, dedicated monitoring and support for the identification and digital quarantine of anomalous behavior, and quite a few other services which counteract ransomware. 

EOL Issues Compound Vulnerabilities

Ransomware will be aimed at targets which are most likely to result in money for the hackers that have launched them. Businesses running on legacy software are at risk. For one thing, that software is already behind the times in terms of security. For another, new means of hacking employ tech innovations that can crack even the best legacy protections.

Remember all the information you were bombarded with regarding Windows 7 End of Life (EOL)? What’s especially considerable right now is Windows 7, and several other Windows services, which reached their End Of Life (EOL) January, 2020. This made January a technologically “hot” month for businesses that haven’t been attentive to the upgrade. You can bet that throughout this year cybercriminals will be focusing attacks on operations still running Windows 7 on their workstations and/or Windows 2008 on their servers, in a legacy capacity. The recent disruptions created from the COVID-19 virus layer on an additional opportunity for cybercrime. For businesses who continue to lag behind in addressing the Windows 7 EOL issue on top of being thrown into disruption by the virus, the level of risk is especially high.

The Best Protection Against Ransomware

Getting support can be key in helping you reduce vulnerabilities that open you up to ransomware attack, mitigate associated risks, and protect your SMB from being compromised. Security should be layered throughout your entire business technology infrastructure. Immediate action is needed to protect your business from these attacks.

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