How To Prevent Ransomware Attacks From Impacting Your Chicago Business
Ransomware attacks are becoming a serious threat to businesses of all sizes. Just one month ago, a major cyberattack cost Colonial Pipeline millions of dollars and resulted in several days of expensive downtime.
While cybercriminals prefer catching big fish, they don’t discriminate against SMBs. Today, a ransomware attack happens every 11 seconds. While some of them aren’t successful, the majority is extremely damaging.
The good news is that over 90% of ransomware attacks are preventable. By strengthening your approach to cybersecurity, it’s possible to keep your data out of the criminals’ hands.
What is a Ransomware Attack?
A ransomware attack involves a cybercriminal gaining illegal access to your data and encrypting or locking it. The attacker promises to decrypt or unlock your files and/or avoid publishing your data in exchange for a ransom.
However, once the ransom is paid, only a small percentage of the companies get their data back. Meanwhile, the decryption software (as was the case with Colonial Pipeline) can end up being slow and flawed.
The average size of the demanded ransom is increasing every year. The cost of recovery after the attack can be significantly higher than the ransom.
Let’s take a closer look at keeping ransomware attacks from hurting your Chicago business.
1. Evaluate Cybersecurity
The first step toward protecting your business is evaluating your cybersecurity measures. You need to understand which cybersecurity risks your company is the most susceptible to.
For example, if you use numerous off-the-shelf apps, a ransomware attack could come through a program’s security loophole.
Evaluate firewalls, EDR (Endpoint Detection and Response) solutions, file-sharing procedures, anti-virus programs, disaster recovery plans, backups, and the like. You need to make sure your business is employing top cybersecurity measures.
Important: Many companies (including Colonial Pipeline) shy away from robust cybersecurity measures due to their high costs. However, with the chance of facing a ransomware attack rising every day, it’s imperative to compare cybersecurity costs to recovery costs. The latter is always much higher.
2. Educate Your Employees
Over 90% of cyberattacks start with phishing emails. If your staff doesn’t take any action with such an email, it can easily prevent nine out of ten ransomware attacks.
Clicking malicious links, downloading attachments from unknown senders, and taking action on suspicious websites allows the criminal to gain access to your network.
Not all malicious links, attachments, and websites are easy to spot. You must train your staff to identify suspicious entry points and avoid taking action.
Additionally, your team must understand the utter importance of keeping their personal data private. Cybercriminals often use personal information to create personalized messages and fool employees into clicking malicious links, downloading attachments, etc.
Important: cybersecurity training isn’t a one-time affair. Every year, cybercriminals come up with new ways to attack. To keep your data safe, you need to arrange refresher courses regularly.
3. Implement Application Whitelisting
Application whitelisting allows only pre-approved programs to run within the network. Any program that isn’t pre-approved is blocked automatically.
If malicious programs enter the network, application whitelisting can keep them from executing their algorithm, thus preventing an attack.
While whitelisting is a highly efficient tactic, not all businesses are ready to accept it. In large companies, the process of whitelisting a program can be time-consuming, thus creating workflow delays.
By creating an effective whitelisting procedure, you can take full advantage of the concept without hurting the work process.
4. Update Your Software
If you are using any off-the-shelf software, it’s imperative to update it regularly. The road to cybersecurity is paved with closed software loopholes. Developers race against criminals to eliminate loopholes and often succeed. However, failure to download patches timely makes businesses vulnerable.
If some of the programs you are using don’t update automatically, make sure to check for patches on a monthly basis.
Important: Disable and remove any unnecessary software from your network. For cybercriminals, each program is a potential entry point.
5. Set Up a Response System
If a team member notices malicious activity in the system, they need to have clear instructions for reacting. At the early stages of the attack, disabling the internet could prevent the malware from going forward.
In many cases, ransomware needs an internet connection to interact with the control center. By disabling the connection, you can break the execution cycle and gain sufficient time to remove the dangerous program.
Any suspicious activity should be reported directly to the person responsible for cybersecurity 24/7. Failure to react quickly could cause the attack to unfold. That’s why your staff must know exactly whom to notify in case they notice anything suspicious.
6. Control Access to Apps and Files
Each person who has access to your data can create an entry point for a cybercriminal. That’s why it’s imperative to grant access to authorized users, who go through multiple layers of identification.
By managing access permissions, you can minimize the chances of a cyberattack, while preventing data loss, mix-ups, and workflow delays.
7. Beef Up Your Backup
If a ransomware attack occurs, you could lose all the data criminals get their hands on. Even if you pay the ransom, you may not get all of your files back. The only way to deal with this problem is to create a strong backup.
A common type of ransomware attack is a lock attack. The criminal locks access to a user’s operating system and demands a ransom for unlocking it. If your backup is strong enough, you can ignore the attack and reinstall the OS.
Working with an IT Cybersecurity Partner
The key to preventing a ransomware attack is improving your cybersecurity measures. By working with an experienced IT cybersecurity partner, you can make sure your security protocols are up to date, loopholes are closed, and top preventive measures are in place.
CTI Technology focuses on keeping your Chicago business safe from cyberattacks and other security-related problems. If you’d like to learn more about preventing ransomware attacks and beefing up your cybersecurity, we are here to help. Contact us and book a no-obligation security consultation today.