Ransomware, which is a type of malware (malicious software), can cause major damage to businesses. Gaining access to internal networks through either cleverly disguised emails or through other network vulnerabilities, ransomware holds digital assets at ransom.
Ransomware can hold files, hardware, or even a network at ransom. Malicious actors will not release ‘the hostage’ until they are paid the money they are demanding. They may even threaten to go public with the data they hold. The problem is that they may not even release ‘the hostage’ if they get what they want. In 2019, 45% of victims chose to pay the ransom to malicious actors but half still lost their data.
Ransomware is created by malicious actors with the intention of extorting money from its victims. Malicious actors are becoming more sophisticated and are looking for big gains, taking advantage of vulnerabilities in internal systems, including clouds, websites, and applications. The pandemic has crated even more opportunity for malicious actors with so much of the workforce moving online. In 2020, ransomware attacks targeting companies increased by 20%.
Some of the strategies employed by cybersecurity experts include 24/7 monitoring of IT systems for ransomware, including internal networks, servers, cloud platforms, applications, and websites. They also take this a step further by studying and understanding the ransomware that’s out there and making sure that business systems are not vulnerable to an attack by ensuring their defenses can aptly withstand them. Over time, experts in this field, through studying various types of attacks, gain an understanding of trends in ransomware. With this information they can use automation as a tool for defending business systems but also for identifying potential new threats.
Applying all software and operating system updates across all platforms is another way IT systems can be protected. Updates contain security patches which are created in response to new malware circulating the internet.
Air-tight access management is a must. Employees and customers should only have access to the parts of the system they need to get their job done. Multi-factor authentication, data encryption, and a Zero Trust Policy across all IT systems provides another layer of security should ransomware happen to make its way in.
Phishing attacks is a common way that ransomware gets past a business’s first line of defense, via an email sent to a user that is designed to trick them. Therefore email security is paramount and staff must also be trained to look out for suspicious emails. Strong security around email includes implementing an email gateway which looks out for suspicious emails.
How to protect your business from ransomware and other cybersecurity threats
While businesses can have best cyber practices in place for their employees, such as don’t click on any suspicious links, this doesn’t go far enough. Keeping all devices and networks up to date with the latest patches and security updates helps, but this also isn’t enough.
Thankfully there are tools that can help protect businesses from the threat of ransomware and other cybersecurity risks, such as Microsoft Security Stack. Specialized cybersecurity professionals spend time analyzing trends in malware to generate techniques to stay ahead of malicious actors.
A detailed analysis of digital assets to assess risk and vulnerability by security experts is the best approach. From there, a detailed security plan can be created and implemented. A pro-active rather than a re-active approach to security helps keep businesses ahead of malicious actors.
Outsourcing your IT security to a team of experts whose core business is security can help alleviate the stress and burden of security on business. It can also help reduce costs and the need for on-prem staff. Talk to Solzorro today to see how they can help.