Though you may have heard little about it, ransomware one of the fastest growing forms of cyberthreats. It’s critical to understand both how it works, and the best ways to protect your business from its fallout.

Ransomware is a dangerous and fast growing forms of cyber-attack. Once the malware infects your computer and/or network, it encrypts your data and subsequently locks you out. Typically, a message with a countdown clock will then appear, demanding a ransom payment (hence the name) in return for restoring your access. If payment isn’t made prior to the countdown expiring, the ransom amount is increased, even doubled. Cybercriminals demand payment in untraceable cryptocurrency to avoid capture, and, worst of all, paying the ransom does little to guarantee you’ll receive your data back. Attackers are typically located overseas, and even when law enforcement is able to locate them, they’re rarely prosecuted due to roadblocks in extradition.

Historically, ransomware attackers focus on small to medium sized businesses. Typically, these size companies lack robust security protection, a fact cybercriminals love to exploit. Sometimes, however, attackers go big, like the recent ransomware attack in Atlanta that’s estimated to have cost the city $18 million in damage.

Regardless of the size of your company, it’s important to follow common-sense guidelines for ensuring your data and network are as insulated as possible from this form of attack. Some extra steps in preparation, careful consideration of security measures, and training in security protocol can prevent costly, devastating losses in the long run. The more roadblocks you set up against attack, the fewer solutions you’ll be scrambling for down the road.

First, employ an updated endpoint protection solution, which will help prevent malicious access of your network via remote devices. The best endpoint protection solutions will prevent against a multitude of threats, including uncharted, zero-day attacks, and network attacks for which a patch/update hasn’t yet been released.

Second, and we stress this constantly, it’s critical to keep your operating system and all applications current with security updates and patches. These programs are constantly evolving to detect and protect you from threats, but they’ll only work the way they’re meant to if they’re armed with the latest, most effective tools in their arsenal.

Third, be sure to you’re using an up to date firewall that utilizes deep packet inspection and secure sockets layer (DPI/SSL).

Fourth, it seems basic, but a robust email spam filter will eliminate a good deal of threat. Most ransomware tends to target unsuspecting users by duping them into downloading legitimate-seeming infected email attachments.

Lastly, the absolute best protection we can recommend is a foolproof, regularly updated, backup solution. If you’re regularly and securely backing data up, cybercriminals will have little to leverage for ransom, which in effectively neutralizes their power.

As always, North Shore Data Services is here to provide help. We can audit your current protocols, alert you to potential risk, and help find the security and backup solutions to make sure your data is as safe as possible. If you’d like to learn more, reach out today at (978) 988-0201, or at sales@ns-data.com.