The best way to protect your business from ransomware is to pay attention to how hackers are getting through the firewalls of other organizations — and take steps to avoid breaches of your own network.
What is it? Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts files and folders, preventing access to important files. Ransomware attempts to extort money from victims by asking for money, usually in form of cryptocurrencies, in exchange for the decryption key.
How Are Bad Actors Threatening Organizations?
Hackers who unleash ransomware on company networks make billions of dollars. It’s easy to see their motivation from this perspective. Here’s how it works:
- A company experiences a ransomware attack.
- To gain access to their networks, business owners may be asked to pay a small or large ransom. If they refuse, the hackers could unleash a virus that corrupts their data — which can put a business out of operation for days, or longer.
- Customers may not be able to trust an organization that failed to secure their private information. Because of this, following major cyberattacks, many businesses go under.
A Real World Hacking Example
Brookside ENT & Hearing Services in Battle Creek, Michigan experienced a ransomware attack that crippled their two-man business in 2019. The hackers who took over their system demanded $6,500 to release the firm’s data — including patients’ medical records, schedules, and personal information. The small business owners refused, so the virus deleted it all — medical records, bills, appointments — and their backups.
They were unable to cancel appointments and eventually had to close the practice due to a lack of medical histories.
On the other hand, paying the ransom doesn’t always yield happy results. In Jackson County, Georgia, officials reputedly paid $400,000 to remove a virus from their networks and regain access to their systems. This sets a dangerous precedent for others with the technical knowledge to program ransomware attacks.
Countless other attacks never make the news but devastate small and medium-sized businesses that fall prey to cybercriminals. Learn how to protect your business from ransomware nightmares.
What Steps Can You Take to Protect Your Business?
Protect your business immediately with three simple steps.
- Make sure your software is updated.
- Implement an online backup service.
- Make sure you have the latest version of your operating system.
Vision can manage or assist with any updates your company needs. Many times, we can do a lot of this remotely. It’s important to stay protected from the latest known viruses. Ask your IT resource or computer company to prepare training documentation on how to avoid phishing emails and suspicious files.
We highly recommend implementing the cloud to backup your data. You should take this step even if you already have a separate on-premise backup strategy. At Vision, we can help you migrate to the cloud and set you up securely. The best services back up files from all office devices and your cloud-based data to a remote location. You can always reload your last good backup to remove the virus from your network.
At worst, you’ll lose a few hours or days of work, but it’s better than losing access to your entire system.
Hackers love to exploit weaknesses in older applications and operating systems. Keep your applications and OS updated to eliminate as many vulnerabilities as possible.
These actions may not prevent a ransomware attack, but they give you the power to greatly reduce the odds. It’s important to do everything you can to protect your business and your livelihood.