Business Owners, IT Professionals, And Executive Teams Want to Know: “Are We Vulnerable to Ransomware Attacks, And If So, How Can We Protect Ourselves?”
The unfortunate answer is yes, you are vulnerable.
Any company with a network connection to the internet that has sensitive information is vulnerable to ransomware attacks. But there is good news as well, with some simple precautions, you can protect your digital information, and your company’s bank account, from ransomware attacks.
Microman, a managed IT services company in Central Ohio, has been protecting computer networks, users, and sensitive business information for over 30 years. Our diverse client base includes law firms, health care providers, long-term care facilities, construction companies, real estate firms, and more.
We’re not intimidated by ransomware and other types of malware attacks and infections, and neither are our clients. You may be surprised to find out that with some basic IT security and business continuance policies in place, you won’t be intimidated by these types of malware attacks either.
In this post, we will provide you with some essential insights on:
- How To Assess Your Current IT and Network Vulnerabilities
- How To Protect Your Networks and Data from Ransomware Attacks
- What To Do If You Are Infected with Ransomware
- Where To Go for More Resources and Information
We’re also going to provide you with a bonus tip at the end of the post, as a sign of our appreciation for you visiting our site today. Trust us, you won’t want to miss the bonus tip!
Let’s get started by having a candid discussion about ransomware.
From the US Department of Justice:
“Ransomware is a form of malware that targets your critical data and systems for the purpose of extortion. Ransomware is frequently delivered through spearphishing emails.”
Your digital information, computers, and networks might be in traditional on-premise IT systems or in the cloud, for example, AWS or Azure managed cloud services. Regardless of the location though, no one is immune.
How To Assess Your Current IT and Network Vulnerabilities
If you dig a bit deeper into the DOJ’s definition of ransomware, you will notice something interesting. Ransomware infections usually start with Spearphishing emails. That’s right, an unsuspecting user usually lets the attackers in.
These fraudulent messages look like legitimate emails from your employees. The emails are meticulously crafted, credible and convincing. The attackers have typically done some level of research on the targeted individual. These messages are much more sophisticated than standard phishing messages. The human target is often an executive who has access to critical online information and passwords. So, the best preventative measure is education. We recommend using an experienced security team to do some basic interviews and training with your users, especially the executive and management teams.
As a managed services provider, we can assess your physical, human, and IT security vulnerabilities. An ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure in this case.
How To Protect Your Networks and Data from Ransomware Attacks
Providing some education to your users on a few basics of IT security, especially the human-factored aspects of cybersecurity, will go a long way. Let’s consider a few simple examples. Users need to be extremely cautious about anything remotely suspicious in an email message. They need to be especially cautious with attachments and links. Remember, the attackers are ultimately after your business-critical information. Passwords, and administrative access credentials to your digital information, are the targets of phishing attacks. Don’t make it easy for ransomware attackers to harvest this critical information.
Once your systems have been infected, your digital information is unusable. It’s been encrypted. In simple terms, your electronic data has been “scrambled” by a mathematical algorithm. This algorithm, known as a key, is only reversible if you have the decryption key. This is where the “ransom” part comes in.
What To Do If You Are Infected with Ransomware
Now the attackers will demand that you pay a ransom, usually in cryptocurrency. Once you pay the ransom, the attackers will purportedly restore access to infected computer systems and data. Access, however, is quite often not restored. As a managed IT service provider, we cannot emphasize the need for user education strongly enough.
In addition to user awareness, we also recommend a strong technology barrier against malware attacks of all stripes, especially ransomware. A managed cybersecurity framework is essential to defend your business from bad technology actors and malware.
This barrier consists of several key pillars:
- Data And System Access Controls
- Email Message Scanning, Control, And Intrusion Detection
- Malware, Spyware And Virus Protection
- Backups and Business Continuance Policies
A properly designed and implemented cybersecurity framework will significantly reduce the chances of ransomware infection, especially when used in conjunction with enhanced user awareness.
What happens when your system gets infected?
First, notify law enforcement. Local law enforcement may have access to state and federal authorities and resources well beyond your company’s reach.
Have a plan to isolate any infected systems and networks. Your managed services provider or IT staff should make sure to isolate the infected systems immediately.
Only pay the ransom as a last, last, “only option left” resort! Sorry for being a bit dramatic here, but once you pay the ransom, you have lost all your leverage. The attackers may not restore access to your information, even after receiving your payment. There are no guarantees.
We’ve talked about prevention, but what if your systems actually get infected?
Law enforcement may have access to specific decryption keys, so again, make sure to contact local law enforcement right away. Information that is regulated by state and local governments, for example, HIPAA, SOX, etc., may have additional priorities with law enforcement.
From an information technology perspective, your best recovery mechanism is a solid disaster recovery plan. If you have a good backup and recovery plan for your business-critical data, you should be able to recover critical systems from the backup. More on this in a future post!
Where To Go for More Resources and Information
Finally, here are two great sources for some additional information:
At Microman, we focus on providing managed IT services for small businesses just like yours. We understand the risks you face in a technology world filled with threats, like ransomware.
Let us help you take back control of your security infrastructure and your critical information.
But what exactly can you do to protect your business?
Well, let’s talk about that bonus tip we promised. At Microman, we always keep our word!
We’re offering a free cybersecurity assessment with no obligation and no cost to you. That’s right, everything to gain and nothing to lose.
Call us at 614-792-0645 Schedule Your Free Security Assessment Right Now!
Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!