Cyberattacks on businesses have become one of the biggest threats to companies and their customers. Businesses are often targeted by hackers who want to steal data or even take over their systems to make money or cause damage.
In 2021 alone, there were 270 attacks per company on average. This is especially true for small businesses that can’t afford extensive security measures. Additionally, small businesses are often more vulnerable because they don’t have the same resources as larger corporations do when it comes to protecting themselves from cyberattacks.
Cyberattacks on businesses often come in the form of ransomware—a type of malware that encrypts files on your computer and demands payment in exchange for unlocking them. In this article, we’ll dive deep into ransomware, how they work, and what you can do to defend your business against such attacks.
What is Ransomware?
Ransomware is a type of malicious software that cuts access to your device (computer, server, tablets, phone) until the user pays a ransom to the malware creators. It’s usually spread through email attachments or compromised websites. Once it’s installed, the malware encrypts all your files and then prompts you to pay for a decryption key or code.
Once you pay, the malware will release your files and provide you with instructions on how to retain them. However, there are no guarantees that you’ll actually get your files back after paying. Even if you do, there’s no guarantee that they won’t be encrypted again by another piece of ransomware.
Ransomware is usually delivered through email attachments or links in spam messages. If you click on a link or open an attachment in an email, you might download a file that installs ransomware on your computer.
You may also encounter ransomware by visiting websites that have been compromised with malware, clicking on pop-up ads, or downloading pirated software. Ransomware can also be installed using remote administration tools such as TeamViewer and Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), which allow hackers to take control of devices without having physical access to them.
In 2021, ransomware attacks increased by 13%. Most of these attacks had a human element to them. That means employees played a role (mostly unknowingly) in making these attacks successful. Thus, it’s necessary that businesses are aware of these threats and can take necessary countermeasures against them.
How to Protect Your Business from Ransomware Attacks
Ransomware is designed to target businesses, not individuals. It’s easy to understand why criminals would focus on businesses—they hold valuable information that can be used to extort money from the company itself or its customers. The type of information that cybercriminals are after varies widely depending on what kind of business they’re targeting.
To protect your business from such attacks, here’s what you must do.
Patch Your Systems
First and foremost, it’s important to ensure that all of your systems are up to date with all the patches and updates available. Many malware infections are spread through vulnerabilities in software that have not been updated since it was originally released.
Back Up Your Data Regularly
Regular backups can be a lifesaver during a ransomware attack, but they’re only useful if they’re actually being used. You can hire professional cybersecurity consultants to train your tech support team regarding data protection and backup practices. Doing so will allow your employees to safely and efficiently back up vital data that they can later access in the event of a ransomware attack.
Be Aware of Suspicious Emails and Links In General
Everyone in your company needs to be aware of suspicious emails or links. It will ensure that they don’t accidentally click on them and download malware onto their devices or into their networks without realizing what they’ve done until it’s too late!
Train Your Employees
For all of your employees, set up a training program that includes:
- How to recognize a ransomware attack, what it might look like, and how it can be prevented
- The steps you can take as an employee to prevent ransomware from entering your network
- How to report suspicious activity or potential attacks
Other Types of Cybersecurity Threats You Must Be Aware of
Here are some of the other cybersecurity threats you must be aware of.
This type of attack occurs when a hacker intercepts an online communication between two parties, impersonating each party to collect data or credentials from the other.
These attacks involve guessing or brute-forcing passwords to access information that is not encrypted.
These attacks use email messages that appear to be from legitimate sources but contain malicious links or attachments to trick users into entering their credentials on phishing sites. Almost 96% of phishing attacks come from email. In most cases, your information is safe as long as you don’t open those emails. However, the moment anyone opens them or the malicious links or attachments in those emails, cybercriminals can gain control of your device and data.
Ransomware attacks are dangerous. However, with the right precaution measures in-place, these attacks can’t harm your business in any way.