All you need to know about preventing ransomware attacks

If you read or watched any news in May, 2017, you probably remember a huge worldwide ransomware attack by WannaCry. This ransomware attack was so widespread that it infected more than 200,000 computer networks all around the world, including many government entities, banks and institutions. After this attack, companies, organizations and even countries all over the world have started paying a lot more attention to cybersecurity threats.

What is ransomware?

The concept of ransomware is very simple, as it’s quite similar to kidnapping. In a kidnapping, the kidnapper keeps a person in exchange for ransom. In the case of ransomware, the malware attacks your computer and encrypts your files, preventing you from being able to access them. At the same time, you get a message asking you to pay the creator of the ransomware to get the key that will restore your access to the files, so the perpetrator is essentially keeping your data hostage.

Unfortunately, getting your computer infected with ransomware is very easy – you can get an email and click on a link or an attachment in it and have your computer infected with ransomware in seconds. Alternatively, you could get a ransomware infection on your computer after downloading a file from the internet.

How to prevent ransomware attacks?

There is only one way to protect your business from ransomware attacks and it’s by taking a proactive approach when it comes to cybersecurity. You can’t simply think that your organization is too small or obscure to become a target for hackers – you should consider your business a target at all times and plan ahead for potential cybersecurity breaches.

The first thing you should do to when it comes to ransomware prevention is to update your operating systems and software on your company’s devices regularly. Since information about new threats and software security flaws becomes available all the time, it’s crucial to always have the latest version with all the security patches installed on your devices. It’s also a good idea to have strong firewalls in place, as they can analyze network traffic and filter out known threats, such as WannaCry and other ransomware.

Secondly, it’s important to teach all your employees to be extra careful when opening emails. Studies show that almost 60% of all ransomware attacks happen over email, so not a single letter should be considered safe by default. Instead, the employees should carefully examine the address of the sender and the body of the email for typos, misspellings or overall inaccurate information. It’s also important to hover the mouse over links in an email without clicking them to view the URL and make sure that it’s legit.

Finally, a fool-proof way to protect yourself from ransomware attacks is to regularly back up all your data and keep the backup on an offline storage device far away from the company premises. This way even if you are attacked by ransomware, you won’t need to pay for access to your files since you will have a backup copy of your own.

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    Vitaly is a principal consultant at Hackcontrol as wall as aa business and IT thought leader. He has over 15 years of experience in consulting, account management and is a specialist in cybersecurity.