Ransomware: 8 Ways to Prevent an Attack

Here’s the thing: No business is immune from a ransomware threat. Ransomware has become a profitable tactic for cybercriminals and was listed as the most significant malware threat of 2018. Ransomware attacks have increased over 97 percent in the last two years and these attacks show no signs of slowing down any time soon.

What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a type of malware that prevents or limits users from accessing their system, either by locking the system’s screen or by locking the users’ files unless a ransom is paid. It targets both technical and human weaknesses by keeping a person or business from their most sensitive files and/or systems.

These cybercriminals use phishing attacks or other hacking methods to gain entry into a computer system. A common way ransomware infects your computer is through email attachments that you click on or accidentally download. Once ransomware is on your computer, the infection encrypts your files and prevents your access. The hacker then communicates that they have your data and will only give that information back if you pay the ransom. If the ransom is paid, these cybercriminals may or may not give you access back to your files.

Preventing Ransomware

Ransomware is an extremely lucrative market for hackers and can be challenging to stop. Taking preventative measures is the most important step to take when it comes to these attacks. To protect you and your company’s data, keep these preventative steps in mind.

1.) Anti-Malware/Ransomware Software

To help safeguard your data, you should be implementing a trusted security suite that offers more than just antivirus. Your security software should consist of anti-malware and anti-ransomware on top of antivirus.

2.) Security Scans

The security software on your system is only effective if you are regularly running scans on your computers and devices. These scans act as your second layer of defense in the security software, detecting threats that your current IT guy might not be able to find.

3.) Early Threat Detection

Installing ransomware protection software can help identify potential attacks. These kinds of programs can find intrusions in real-time and prevent them. Using a firewall that blocks unauthorized access to your computer or network is a great way to prevent ransomware from infecting your computer.

4.) Education

One of the most important ways to prevent a ransomware attack is to thoroughly educate yourself and your employees about these types of threats and cybersecurity in general. Often, a ransomware attack can be traced back to an unwitting employee who clicked a link or attachment they shouldn’t have. When employees are informed on these types of attacks, many ransomware occurrences can easily be avoided.

At Elevated Tech, we offer cybersecurity training to you and your employees to ensure everyone is on the same page and no unfortunate, costly mistakes are made.

5.) Password Security

In many cases, your password is your first line of defense against these hackers. Your password is in place to protect your information and keep others out, so you should be implementing a strong password strategy for you and your employees. Take measures into improving your password security and making sure you don’t become infected with ransomware over a weak password.

6.) File Extensions and Mindful Clicking

Pay attention to file extensions before you click on a file/attachment. The file extension is the period followed by three or four letters that indicate the file type. For example, .pdf is a PDF file, .jpg is a JPEG file and .docx is a Windows’ Word Document. Windows has an option where you can set up your computers to display the file extensions when you see a file.

File extensions to avoid are .exe, .vbs or .scr. Even if these executable extensions come from a “trusted” source, do NOT open. They are likely ransomware or viruses.

Never click links in an email. Always type the website out yourself in your browser. Set your privacy settings in your email to require you to enable links or photos every time. You can check photos or link sources by rolling your cursor over any photos or links—NOT clicking them—to see if the preview address that appears matches the link. If it doesn’t, it’s not authentic.

7.) Blocking Unknown Sources

  • Vulnerable Plug-ins – Cybercriminals can and will use various types of web plug-ins like Java and Flash Player to infect your computer. Java and Flash Player are two of the most common that these hackers use because they are standard on many sites and are easy to attack. If you use these plug-ins, it is essential to update them regularly. However, your safest bet is to stop using them altogether.
  • Unknown Email Addresses and Attachments – Filter out and reject incoming mail with executable file extensions and set up your mail server to block email addresses of detectable spammers and malware.

8.) Backup

Even if you take every precaution into preventing a ransomware attack, there is still the possibility of your defenses falling short. The best way to safeguard against these attacks and decrease the impact on your business is to have a regular, secure backup system in place. To be even more prepared in these instances, it is vital to back up your systems in the cloud as well as locally.

Backing up your data is essential because hackers cannot easily access your information when it’s in a safe place. Also, it will be easier if the time comes to wipe your systems and repair with your backed up files following an attack.

Now that you know a little more about ransomware and how to prevent these malicious attacks, check out one of our previous posts that helps explain why you shouldn’t pay the ransom if you get attacked.

While taking these suggested steps will help prevent ransomware attacks, the best way to safeguard your data and systems is partnering with Elevated Technologies. Working with an MSP like us will ensure that your company’s sensitive information is constantly safe and secure by utilizing our data protection and network security services. We are confident in our top-of-the-line cybersecurity and want you and your business to succeed without you having to worry about potential threats to your business.

Contact us today and take the right step toward bettering your business!

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