Protect Your Business from Ransomware

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With the spread of ransomware viruses like WannaCry and Petya lately, it’s becoming extremely important to know how to protect yourself from these damaging viruses. The way ransomware works is that it encrypts the files on your computer or on your server so you can not access them unless you pay for the decryption key. The methods the attackers are using to gain access to your system are changing constantly, and hyper vigilance is required to keep your company safe. There are 5 specific things you can do to keep your business safe though.

1. Be proactive. Educating your employees on common tactics and things to look for can go a long way in preventing an attack on your systems. Combine this with allowing monitoring on your network so when red flags appear, someone is able to take care of the problem before it becomes a bigger problem. Many times the ransomware has an “incubation” period where it waits a specified amount of time before it actually encrypts your data. Catching it within this timeframe can be crucial to resolving the issue quickly before it is able to do any damage.

2. Use Protection. There are many companies that offer quality software for malware protection. Installing the program isn’t quite enough though. You need to also set up regular scans and updates to the software and virus definitions. These companies are usually extremely vigilant about making sure they know all of the various strains of viruses so they can protect your system better than the competition. Take advantage of their vigilance and allow them to do some of the heavy lifting for you.

3. Update. Update. UPDATE. We are not sure we can stress this enough. UPDATE! Update your operating systems, update your software programs, update everything! Security patches for operating systems are released on a fairly regular basis. When these updates are released it essentially informs attackers of current vulnerabilities. People who have updated their systems will be immune to any attacks exploiting those vulnerabilities. People who have not updated, will not be so lucky.

4. Back it up. If your system does get compromised, it is comforting to know that simply restoring a backup from earlier in the day or yesterday can make the entire problem disappear. If your files become encrypted, you can simply overwrite the entire drive with the files from your backup and be right where you were before the ransomware hit. Backing up your data on a regular basis should be as important to your business as making sure payroll is covered. It is not negotiable.

5. Call in reinforcements. If your system is compromised, don’t immediately pay the attackers to release your files. Instead, pay a professional IT support firm to help you resolve the issue. IT professionals deal with these kinds of issues all the time. They will not judge you for becoming infected. They WILL help you get your files back and restore your company’s data.Review all options before formulating a plan to move forward.

Ransomware can be really scary. It definitely causes a huge panic as you try to figure out how you will get your files and system back up and running. Don’t fall victim to the emotions it causes, take a breath and know that you are completely prepared to handle the situation.