How to Protect Your Small Business Against Ransomware

Cybercrime is one of the most dangerous problems that modern businesses currently face. What’s more, this form of illicit activity has been steadily growing over the past few years. With cybercrime reaching an all-time high in 2022, your company is more vulnerable than ever before.

Considering that the average ransom payment that is requested by hackers is $250,000, this is an expensive mistake to fall into. With total damages reaching upwards of $20 billion in 2021, there’s never been a better time to educate your employees and make sure your business is protected.

First, what is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a type of malware that is unknowingly downloaded or injected onto a device, leading to the corruption of data, locking of systems, and leaking of private information. Most commonly, a ransomware program will take control of the system and demand a fixed price to return control to the system’s operators.

While this seems like something straight out of some form of spy movie, it is actually a lot more common than you would initially think. In 2021, 37% of every business in the United States suffered a ransomware attack, having to pay out billions of dollars in total payments.

Due to the frequency with which these attacks happen, you should aim to educate your whole workforce on how to stay safe online.

How to Protect Against Ransomware

When teaching your employees how to keep their digital devices secure, the majority of tactics that you’ll be explaining are preventative tactics. If ransomware has already captured a computer, it’s notoriously difficult to liberate the device. However, if you start teaching preventative measures, hopefully, your team will never end up in that situation.

The main tactics you should consider are:

Never click on links from unknown senders
Never open email attachments from suspicious sources
Keep your systems updated

Let’s break these down further.

Links from unknown senders

Email is one of the most common methods through which a hacker will gain control of your computer systems. By sending out an email with some embedded links, a user that’s not thinking might be tempted to click on one of the links to find out more about the email. While this could be a harmless action, the email links could also lead straight to ransomware.

When you click on a link from someone that you don’t know, you’re opening up your system to infection from malicious devices. The link could lead to an internet site that automatically downloads corrupted files onto your device, instantly ruining the security defenses of your system.

Be sure to educate your team on checking the validity of links that are sent your way. Carefully read the email address that’s reached out to you, taking time to make sure you’ve noticed any replacement letters and numbers.

If there are any replacements, the email that’s contacting likely doesn’t have the best intentions at heart.

Never Open Email Attachments from Suspicious Sources

Another ransomware attempt that will come through email is attachments that include the ransomware hidden inside them. When an unknowing victim opens this attachment on their device, they infect it with the hidden ransomware, causing a huge problem for every device connected to that system.

Just like when checking links, be sure to never open attachments from someone that you don’t know.

Keep Your Systems Updated

One of the most effective ways that you can keep your systems safe from ransomware and other malware is to ensure that your system is updated to the latest rollout. In each rollout by Apple, Windows, or whichever software you’re using, they also update their security structures.

With this update, your team will always have the most comprehensive security available. Especially when it comes to making sure your systems don’t get corrupted by ransomware, these updates could be the difference between having to shell out thousands of dollars or being safe.

When a system updates its security, the changes are often so drastic that any ransomware program that a hacker has created has to be completely rewritten to become compatible with the new system. Due to this, it can take them weeks or even months to correct their software. If you continually update to the latest rollout, you could potentially always stay one step ahead of the people trying to get at your system and its data.

Use a VPN when on Public Wi-Fi

Especially when working from home during a period of remote work, you may go to a local park or café to get some work done. While this normally goes fine, if you connect a false Wi-Fi that a hacker has set up, they’ll then be able to put ransomware onto your system with ease.

Simply by connecting to the wrong free Wi-Fi, you could be corrupting your systems and letting hackers access your data. One way you can combat this is to always use a VPN when you’re using public Wi-Fi.

A VPN (Virtual Private Network) will act as an additional barrier, keeping you safe from any malicious intents.

Final Thoughts

When keeping yourself and your company’s data safe online, you need to make sure you actively take steps to prevent the possibility of downloading ransomware onto your device. While these steps and preventative measures may seem simple, they are the difference between a normal day of work and one that causes a massive cybersecurity problem for your business.

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This article, “How to Protect Your Small Business Against Ransomware” was first published on Small Business Trends