Top Measures You Should Take to Avoid Ransomware - SMB’s Included

Ransomware attacks have been around for a long time, and they often get in the news when major companies or governments become victims. These attacks are quite dangerous because once a computer system is infected, it’s difficult to recover if there is no existing uninfected backup of critical data. This is why so many victims of ransomware end up paying their attackers.  Unfortunately, even when you do pay, it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll end up being able to recover your data. Even worse, paying a ransom once makes you more likely to be attacked again.

While attacks against large organizations get a lot of attention, they actually make up a relatively small percentage of ransomware attacks. Small business owners mistakenly believe they would never be targeted, but recent reports provide strong evidence that this is actually not the case. Reports from February 2022 reveal that approximately 82% of ransomware attacks are actually against small businesses. These attacks tend to be particularly successful because small business owners usually don’t take the necessary measures to protect their businesses.

Taking cybersecurity seriously is important regardless of the type and size of business you run. Fortunately, protecting your business can be relatively inexpensive and easy. The right business IT services provider can help your business come up with the best approach to prevent ransomware attacks, and do it in a very affordable manner.

Essential Steps to Protect Against Ransomware

Ransomware can take many forms. The world’s hackers are also constantly changing their strategies to overcome any new defenses that IT security experts may devise and to become more effective. For this reason, you need to take a comprehensive approach to protect your systems — a single strategy simply won’t do.

The following are essential tools that ALL businesses, even small and mid-sized ones, should put in place to protect themselves against ransomware attacks:

  • Email Security Tools – Ransomware is often sent directly through email or links embedded within the email. A sound email security system that includes anti-phishing technology will help to seal off this vulnerability and enable your business to use email with less risk.
  • Next-Generation Anti-Virus Tools – A good antivirus system is essential for combating all types of viruses and malware, including ransomware. Since the ransomware threat is ever-evolving, you want to ensure that you have a next-gen antivirus tool that uses artificial intelligence to monitor your environment actively and stop threats before they become a problem.
  • Security Training – Humans are typically the weakest link in any computer network. No cybersecurity system can be complete without providing employees (and anyone else with access to your network) with proper security training. This includes training on how to handle email. This will minimize the risk of having your systems inadvertently infected with ransomware due to the ignorance or carelessness of a user.
  • Firewalls – Firewalls are an essential security system that will analyze all data coming into or out of your network and block anything that is not allowed. You can use either software or hardware-based firewalls to get the desired results.
  • DNS Filtering – The domain name system, or DNS, is essential to how internal networks and the Internet work. Every network server is identified by a “domain name”, and DNS-filtering tools block known unsafe servers from sending data traffic to your network. They also stop your users from accessing these servers. Sending attacks through certain network servers is a common way hackers try to infiltrate your systems, so blocking them is an important line of defense.
  • Keep Your OS Up to Date – All major Operating Systems (OS) such as Windows, MacOS, and Linux will release patches to address new security threats as they arise. To keep your systems secure, most businesses should make it a point to install these new security patches and OS fixes as soon as possible. To minimize the slight possibility of negative “side effects” from an OS update, your IT administrator can first install the patch on a single computer as a test case, then install the patch more broadly after it has been deemed safe for all the software your business uses. The vast majority of OS updates are safe and should be applied.

When used together, the above concepts will help you to ensure that your computer systems do not become infected with ransomware or any other type of malware. While these will provide excellent protection, you will also want to be prepared if something goes wrong and the hackers manage to get around your company’s defenses.

Recovering from Ransomware Attacks

The only way to recover your systems after you have been infected with ransomware (without actually paying the ransom) is to wipe out all the data on your systems and start over. This can devastate a company and, in many cases, put it out of business. If you have a good data backup plan in place, however, restoring your systems becomes a simple inconvenience rather than a catastrophic event.

You need to ensure that you have all of your critical data backed up regularly and that the backed-up information is kept securely on a separate system so that it cannot be infected. There are many different backup strategies that you can use depending on the type of data your business has and how quickly it needs to be restored. Talking with your business IT services provider about your data backup and restoration requirements is critical for an effective strategy.

Partnering With Experienced IT Services Professionals

Most small businesses need a team of experienced IT professionals. A single in-house IT support person would unlikely have the bandwidth and breadth of expertise to ensure this is done correctly. Partnering with an IT services provider like GSDSolutions will give you the advantage of getting support from a dedicated team of cybersecurity experts without the huge expenses of in-house staff. In addition to setting up a robust IT security infrastructure for your systems, GSDSolutions can offer cyber awareness training and education for your employees, maintain software updates on all your devices, develop a data backup strategy, and much more. If you’re looking for IT Services in the Bay Area or Central Valley, contact GSDSolutions for a free consultation to talk about getting comprehensive IT services and security solutions for your business.

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