How to Avoid Ransomware and Avoid Damaging Your Business 1

Melissa is a mother of 2, lives in Utah, and writes for a multitude of sites. She is currently the EIC of HarcourtHealth.com and writes about health, wellness, and business topics.

Ransomware is becoming the biggest threat to businesses. It’s not just big businesses, either. About 43% of all attacks are on small businesses.

The most concerning number is that 60% of small businesses are out of business within six months of a cyber attack.

With the use of ransomware on the rise by hackers, you have to take precautions to protect your business and your customers’ data.

Read on to discover how to avoid ransomware.

What Is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a type of malware, or malicious code, that locks up your computer. You can’t access anything on your computer unless you pay the hackers a ransom. That’s usually in the form of Bitcoin or some other cryptocurrency that can’t be traced.

People could just say forget and not pay. They could, at the risk of losing valuable personal data like credit card numbers, addresses, and social security numbers.

Regardless of whether people pay or not, the costs are steep. Ransomware attacks are estimated to cost $11.5 billion in 2019.

Types of Ransomware

Ransomware falls into one of two categories: screen locking and encrypting.

Screen locking ransomware will lock up your screen and try to scare or intimidate you into sending money to the hackers. There will be a threatening message, purportedly from the FBI or from the police. If you don’t pay, then the authorities will show up at your doorstep.

Encrypting ransomware locks up access to all of your files. Your files may slowly be deleted or a hacker will threaten to delete your files if you don’t pay a ransom.

Ransomware strikes through several common methods. Clicking on an email that contains malicious code is one common way.

There’s also scareware, which is a fake pop-up that says you need to update your software immediately. You click on it thinking that it’s legit, and your computer becomes infected.

The most alarming ways that ransomware can strike is through an exploit kit. You don’t do anything on your machine to become infected. Malicious code can be injected through security loopholes in a software program. This happens in older versions of software that aren’t updated regularly.

How to Avoid Ransomware Attacks

You can see how a ransomware attack can destroy a business. There are some things that you can do to avoid a ransomware attack.

Assess Your Risk

One of the best things you can do for your business is to determine how likely you are to get hit by a ransomware attack.

Conducting a risk assessment of your systems will help you identify where you are vulnerable to attack. You can then take the appropriate steps to close those loopholes.

Go Beyond Basic Anti-Virus Software

It’s great to have anti-virus installed on your computers but not all of them will detect a ransomware attack.

Make sure that your anti-virus software is from a reputable anti-virus company with a great reputation. You’ll also want to verify that the anti-virus software can detect and prevent ransomware attacks.

Update Your Software Programs Regularly

Are you still using Windows XP or Windows 8? These and earlier versions are vulnerable to a ransomware attack. You want to make sure your systems are upgraded to the latest version of Windows.

It’s the same with all of your other programs. Any security loopholes can be exploited by hackers.

When in Doubt, Don’t Click!

A ransomware attack is expected to occur every 14 seconds in 2019. You can avoid a ransomware attack by being suspicious of emails and pop-up ads.

If something doesn’t seem right with an email or website, chances are that it’s ransomware or some other type of malware.

When you see something suspicious, don’t click on the ad or email. When the email says it’s from someone you know, ask that person if they sent it. Their account could be spoofed.

Train Your Employees

Employees are the cause of almost half of all hacking attacks. They’re the ones that click on emails or ads that can exploit your systems.

You need to make your employees aware of the dangers of a hacking attack and how to avoid a ransomware attack.

Use a Virtual Private Network

A virtual private network can be a lifesaver if you have employees on the road. These employees will often have to access your company’s data on a public network, such as hotel WiFi.

Using a virtual private network (VPN) will encrypt your data and keep your connections secure.

What to do In Case Ransomware Strikes

There is always the possibility that you can get hit with a ransomware attack.

IT experts are noticing that ransomware is also being used as a distraction from other forms of attack. If you do get hit with ransomware, you need to be aware that your system may be attacked in some other fashion.

If you do get attacked, the first thing you need to do is unplug the infected computer. The sooner that the computer can get offline, the less likely other computers in your system will be infected.

The next thing you need to do is contact a company like Charlotte IT Solutions, which can guide you through the steps to restore your data.

You may be tempted to pay the ransom and move on. Don’t do it. There’s a good possibility that the hackers will take your money and delete your data anyway.

Always Have Backups

Sometimes, you can’t avoid a ransomware attack no matter how hard you try. You’ll always want to back up your files in case a hacker gets into your system.

Avoiding Ransomware Can Save Your Business

Ransomware can strike at any time. All it takes is one unsuspecting click and your systems can be held hostage.

If you want to know how to avoid ransomware, you have to start with assessing your company’s risk. You can then take the necessary steps to keep your data and your business safe and secure.

Want to know more about keeping your devices safe? Check out this article about the safety of mobile apps.