While cyber security is an important thing for everyone to understand, it’s even more important for businesses and large organizations with greater amounts of personal, financial, and business data at their disposal.
As one of these cybersecurity threats, ransomware continues to plague businesses all over the globe, leading them to question how to prevent ransomware and to determine what are the best ways to deal with it if it does happen.
In this article, we’ll be answering these questions, giving businesses the best insight into ransomware and how to best protect your business from cyber threats.
What is Ransomware?
Ransomware is a type of cybercrime that uses malicious software to infect a computer and restrict access until a ransom is paid to unlock it. Think of it as a kidnapping situation, but instead of a person, it’s your data that’s held hostage.
Today, ransomware has become much easier to deploy. Cybercriminals no longer need specialized skills to write malware; instead, they can use malware kits or simply purchase and deploy premade malware. According to a 2021 Ransomware study, the recovery costs of ransomware attacks have reached nearly $2 million. Recovery costs can include data loss, ransom payments, higher insurance premiums, system repair, business disruption, and more.
While the main sources of ransomware come from email attachments and websites that have been compromised, there are numerous other types of ransomware you’ll also want to be aware of in order to protect your business, including:
- Encryption – the most common form of ransomware encrypts your files and data and makes it inaccessible until given a decryption key.
- System lock – this completely locks you out of your system and a lock screen displays a ransom demand.
- Scareware – this is fake software claiming to detect a virus or problem with your computer and can result in endless popups or completely lock your computer.
- Doxware – this threatens to make sensitive company or private information public and often uses intimidation to meet ransom demands.
How Does Ransomware Spread?
Unfortunately for both individuals and businesses, ransomware is an ever-evolving cyber security threat with numerous tactics and attack vectors. With a majority of the ransomware attacks having been from phishing emails, ransomware can also spread via:
- Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP)
- Pirated Software
- Public WIFI
- Network Scanning
- MSPs and RMMs
- Drive-By Downloads
- Network Propagation
Ransomware hackers will often request a ransom in the form of cryptocurrency, like bitcoin as it’s fast, easy, and largely anonymous.
How Should Companies Handle Ransomware?
Unfortunately, in 2021, ransomware affected 66% of organizations according to another study done by Sophos in 2022.
Based on this data, the best and most important way for companies to handle ransomware is to put in preventative measures before it ever occurs, as ransomware is much easier to defend rather than deal with.
If an attack does occur however, companies should immediately disconnect any infected computers and report the attack to the local FBI field office, as well as the anti-malware software provider in order to escalate the recovery and defense against ransomed files.
When attempting to resolve a ransomware attack, however, the FBI recommends that you do not pay the ransom, as there’s no actual guarantee you’ll get your data back or gain access to your system.
The only true way to handle a ransomware attack, is to prevent it from ever occurring in the first place.
How to Prevent Ransomware
Here are our best tips for companies looking to better understand ransomware and take charge in the prevention against potential attacks.
1. Keep Regular Secure Backups of Important Files
One of the best ways to avoid the threat of ransomware is to ensure you always have a backup of your critical files. That way, if you do get infected with ransomware, then you can wipe your system clean and reinstall the uninfected versions of your files.
It’s also important to secure your backups by keeping them offsite or offline. After all, there’s no point in keeping backups, if they can also be compromised in an attack.
2. Setup Strong Email Filtering and Spam Protection
Having strong email filtering and spam protection can prevent dangerous emails from ever reaching your employees. This stops spam emails from getting to the inbox.
You’ll also want to have regular email scanning to detect threats and filter any executable files, including new ransomware threats that haven’t been seen before.
You can also configure an email firewall to block known malicious IP addresses.
3. Keep Software and Systems up to Date
Beyond securing your business email accounts and inboxes, you’ll want to keep the rest of your software, firmware, network, systems, and apps up to date
This ensures your entire business network and other software are always patched against the latest security threats that exist online.
You can also employ other online security best practices like minimizing employee privileges and access controls based on company role. Plus, whitelisting known programs so malicious third-party software won’t be able to execute and run.
Some businesses even employ website blocking tools for employees connected to the network.
4. Educate Employees and Create Awareness
No matter how effective your email security tools and other protective measures are, your employees play an important role in defending against cybercriminals. It’s important to educate your employees and make sure they’re aware of current ransomware threats, recognize when social engineering is happening, and never open email attachments from unknown senders.
Explore MXGuardian’s Ransomware Prevention Services for Your Business
While ransomware attacks can be difficult to detect and stop, MX Guardian can help.
Since email is one of the main entry points for ransomware, you’ll want to improve your email security and at MXGuardian, no one handles email security like we do.
We offer customized spam filtering, protection against zero-day attacks, phishing and ransomware blocking, and so much more in order to keep you and your business safe 24/7.
Sign up for a full-featured 30-day free trial and protect your business against ransomware attacks today!