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Ransomware is such a common occurrence these days that it has entered the public discourse, but we also want to note that it’s such an important topic to discuss with your team that you can never talk about it enough. We want to address some of the most common questions we get asked about ransomware and what can be done about it.
Ransomware is malware that encrypts, or locks down, data on a device or system, rendering it useless until the decryption key is provided by the attacker. The criminal attacking your device essentially holds your data for ransom until you pay a price of some sort, usually through Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, but hackers can also steal your data and sell it to the highest bidder if you don’t pay up.
This is obviously bad, but it gets worse when the hackers threaten to delete data after a time period has passed—usually represented by some sort of countdown clock. There is pressure to pay the ransom coming from multiple fronts, and it can be very difficult to manage if you’re inexperienced with threats like these.
Ransomware enters a network in all of the usual ways, but it’s often through social engineering that it makes its way to your network. In other words, the hacker skirts around your security solutions by using your users as a means to enter the network through phishing attacks. If hackers can get the requisite amount of information and access through the use of malicious links or email attachments, and if the user provides permission, then your antivirus software is not going to help prevent it.
Rather than react to ransomware as it occurs, you should be preparing to prevent ransomware attacks in the first place through maintaining a comprehensive, off-site, isolated data backup. This allows you to effectively restore your infrastructure without having to pay the ransom, which can be a powerful option if there are no others present.
It can be tempting to just pay the ransom in exchange for the decryption key, but we urge you not to do so. There is no way to guarantee that the hackers will give you what you need, and worse, you’re providing financial support to those who are wronging you and will likely harm others.
It might be tempting to rest on your laurels after a ransomware attack, but the work is only beginning. There is a chance that your data has been stolen or compromised as a result of the breach, meaning you could have regulatory issues from noncompliance and legal concerns stemming from the attack. Furthermore, you’ll need to address the root cause of the issue—how you were attacked in the first place—and shore up the vulnerability as quickly as possible.
You might also experience some loss of trust and customer confidence as a result of the attack. Indeed, the prolonged impacts of ransomware could last for much longer and be much more devastating than you might expect.
If you want to keep your business safe from ransomware, you’ll want to focus on protecting your data by teaching your team about ransomware, phishing, and how it could affect the business. Additionally, you’ll want to ensure that your backup is prepared, tested, and ready to go at a moment’s notice. This will help you respond quickly should the need arise. There’s also the plethora of cybersecurity solutions we always recommend, as well, as you can never be too careful.
To best prepare your business for ransomware attacks and other cybersecurity threats, reach out to Preferred at 708-781-7110.