The spike in ransomware attacks in the past few years has left security analysts and administrators scratching their heads and seeking solutions. Being infected with a computer virus is one thing, but when a business is locked out of their own system (or hackers releasing sensitive business data), it can be potentially devastating. Recent threats and ransomware are not just hindering businesses, but actually halting their operations. Some attacks are sophisticated and dire that forces businesses to reluctantly pay the hackers. The internet has become the new wild west. Experts expect global business losses to exceed $5 billion in 2017 due to ransomware and cyber-attacks. However, there are steps businesses can take to minimize the impact of the threat and attacks.
Back Up Your Data: Cannot emphasize enough on this step. Make sure to back up your data on a non-networked environment (disconnected from network) so that outside access is cut off. This will potentially prevent outside hackers getting hold of your back up data. Routinely schedule either daily or weekly back up depending on your business needs. Additionally, verify the integration and restore process by scheduling and performing routine data restore as part of the contingency plan.
Check Your Network: Always use firewall configuration to limit IP address accessing your environment. But additionally, regularly check and block suspicious IP addresses promptly. Revisit your network access privileges for each user account. Ensure their level of access are correct and consider configuring multilevel of access to minimize potential impact if one of the users are affected by ransomware or virus. If possible, limit administrative rights to the very few within the organization. Finally, change credential passwords regularly ( minimum every 2-3 months).
Patch Regularly and Promptly: Earlier this year, ransomwares known as WannaCry and NotPetya took hold of businesses across the globe. The threat was recognized by many software manufacturers and an emergency security patch became soon available. However, many businesses neglected the urgency to apply the patch in time. Implement a protocol to apply patches regularly and emergency patches promptly from your verified software vendors.
Next Generation Antivirus: Although many locally installed antivirus software does a decent job with ‘known’ viruses and malware, it is not as effective when stopping unknown attacks. Nowadays, hackers are becoming more sophisticated and creative in penetrating businesses with their ransomware. Consider taking a look at cloud based antivirus software that are innovative and less resource intensive that uses smarter algorithm to detect suspicious activity ‘before’ an attack occurs. Consider a system that can block malware and non-malware attacks, and provide visibility into all activity occurring on your endpoints without having performance or security impact within your local environment. Also, it is cost effective as many offer subscriptions based services.
As businesses become more and more reliant on computers, vulnerability will always be there for the lurking hackers. Computers and technology help businesses thrive and survive. But with such reliance comes unexpected issues with viruses, ransomware, malware and so on. Unlike the old western days where the outlaws freely robbed banks and were meagerly resisted, there are solutions and strategies available to help your business survive these modern day hold ups. Hackers will continue to be more sophisticated and creative in an attempt to hold your business hostage. So be vigilant, but also be smart about protecting your business. Let’s make sure the next ‘hee-haw’ is coming from your business as you thwart the next cyber-attack