How to keep your business safe from ransomware

One of the hot topics in the news recently is the subject of ransomware. A story that obtained particular attention was the WannaCry ransomware attack which ground several hospitals in the UK to a halt.

We’ve outlined a few security checkpoints that you should try and stick to if you’re a business owner and which we hope you can transmit to your staff to keep your network security in tact.

It goes without saying that any cyber attack can be very harmful to a business, but ransomware attacks can be particularly nasty. A good way to prevent attacks is to hire an IT Services Company that you can trust. 5u IT Support helps businesses across Nottingham with just that.

What is ransomware?

Ransomware is a variant of cyber-attack that entails hackers taking over a computer or other device and insisting payment. The attackers use malicious software (Malware) by downloading it on a victim’s device and using it to encrypt their information. They then threaten to destroy the victims’ files unless the ransom is paid. Most ransomware attacks are targeted toward businesses and large corporations, but it can also affect individuals.

How do I protect myself from ransomware?

There are many ways to protect yourself from ransomware, and most attacks could have been prevented had the victim exercised caution in their everyday usage of their devices. Security experts have released tips to help users protect themselves from these cyber-attacks, especially after a rise in national and international cases:

1.  Be wary of emails, pop-ups and dodgy apps

Ransomware is often spread through emails containing suspicious links. Once clicked, the hackers can access the user’s computer and subsequently their files, which they can freeze and block. This is where they threaten the victim with the loss of their files, should they refuse payment.

However, there are ways you can spot a dodgy email. Look closely at the email address to see if it is valid. Within the body of the email itself, look for obvious mistakes and grammatical errors. Furthermore, you could try hovering over hyperlinks (without clicking them) to see if they direct you to dubious web pages.

Remember that banks and credit card companies will never ask for private information including your password or credit card details.

‘Malvertising’ is a new method which involves the embedding of malware in adverts on websites you are familiar with and trust. They are often pop-ups and sometimes promote software to remove malware. Never click on these adverts, but close the windows immediately. To prevent malvertising appearing on your trusted sites, you could use ad blockers, or alternatively, repair known browser security holes.

Lastly, never download an app that has not been certified by an official store, and always read reviews before installing anything to avoid allowing attackers access to your computer or mobile device.

2.  Back up all your files

If you make sure to back up all your data daily, you will be immune to attacker’s threats if your computers or servers are blocked. However, you need to ensure you use an external drive that is offline so that the ransomware cannot reach them. By backing all your data onto external drives that are not directly connected to your desktop system, however, would allow you to erase all information from the attacked machine and restore it using the backup, should you fall victim.

3.  Always install legitimate updates

Updates are usually released to fix bugs that may make your device more vulnerable to ransomware and other attacks. Therefore, download the newest version of your software whenever it becomes available. To ensure you know when updates are available, turn on notifications or configure your devices to automatically install the newest updates.

4.  Install an antivirus program

Antivirus software can detect malware and block it from infecting your computer before it becomes visible or a threat to you. However, make sure to only download such software from reputable companies such as Bitdefender, Kaspersky Lab, and Norton.

5.  Never pay the ransom

Paying the ransom will unfortunately only encourage attackers further, and there is no guarantee your files will be recovered. If you back up your data regularly, however, you can restore your files from that.

What do I do if I’m already infected?

If you are part of a business make sure you disconnect from the corporate network and the internet to avoid malware spreading to other devices. Also disable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth as these can also be an entry for ransomware. Report the crime and seek help from an expert who majors in data recovery, so you can discuss your options. In extreme cases, your only option may be to pay the ransom, but DO NOT do this unless you have spoken to a professional first.