As the world is dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak, cyber-criminals amp up attacks.

Ransomware is one of the most harmful electronic threats posed to users and businesses around the world. A form of malware that encrypts computer files until a ransom fee is paid to restore access, ransomware presents a dangerous and potentially expensive problem to organizations not equipped to avoid such situations.

Paying a hefty ransom to unlock business’ critical documents should not be a scenario your company finds itself stuck in. Proper data safeguards, careful internet habits, and diligent backups can protect and prevent ransomware attacks from crippling key infrastructure.

In the event that a ransomware attack occurs on your network, comprehensive backups are among the best tools to combat it. Like a carbon copy of your business’ critical data, backups can ensure information can be restored to normal should you ever get locked out or if data becomes corrupted.

Why Backups Fail to Protect Against Ransomware Attacks

Unfortunately, many businesses neglect to create a proper backup strategy, leaving them vulnerable to ransomware attacks that cannot be effectively mitigated. From small businesses to enterprises, thoroughly backing up a computer system can be an expensive and costly endeavor. When spread across multiple file types, different systems and applications, and an entire network of users, backing up becomes incrementally more difficult and complex.

Even in situations where companies have done their due diligence to create ransomware backups, data can still remain at risk. Companies that do not properly test their backups to ensure data can be quickly restored can find recovery to be a process almost as painful as the ransomware attack itself. Due to the ever-evolving threat of ransomware, attackers are also aware of backup strategies and can also deliberately target backup files themselves, which can place entire disaster recovery strategies at risk.

Don’t be Left Paying the Ransomware Tab

Components of effective backup strategies:

  • Identify which data needs backup protection. Determine what needs to be in a data backup. For many companies, this includes everything from customer data to files containing information about payments or accounts.
  • Assess your company’s backup needs. How often should you back up your business data? If you want your company to generate data as quickly as possible, you may want a daily or an hourly backup. If your company rarely updates data, a once-weekly backup may be sufficient.
  • Identify where you will store copies of your business data. You can choose between cloud and on-premise storage systems. Many companies, however, use a hybrid approach to ensure maximum data protection.
  • Consider what you’re protecting your company against. If you want to protect your data from natural disasters such as flooding, then you may want to consider cloud-based storage. Only keep your critical business data backups if they are stored in a waterproof, fireproof, and indestructible safe.
  • Train your employees. This prevents human error in data handling. Help your employees understand how your company’s data processing works and how your backup systems function.

Backup options to choose from:

  • Hardware backups: Data is backed up in a single drive on your computer.
  • Cloud storage: Also known as offsite backup, this option allows you to store your business data in the vendor’s secure cloud infrastructure. But, you need a stable internet connection to quickly upload and download data.
  • Hybrid backup solution: This is a combination of software and cloud backups. Data are backed up not only onsite but also on the cloud.

How to keep your backup secure:

  • Use Encryption. You should package your company’s data backups and encrypt them with at least 256-bit AES.
  • Follow the 3-2-1 rule. Three backup copies of data, across two different mediums, with one copy, backed up offsite.
  • Test regularly. This ensures that backups work as expected during emergency situations.
  • Eliminate manual processes. Manual backups are at risk of human error. If you automate your backup system, you can reduce the amount of human interaction with data, which minimizes the risk of overwriting or deletion.

Recovering from a ransomware attack can be an expensive, time-consuming chore. By taking the proper precautions to maintain your devices, safeguard your network, and backup critical data, you’ll ensure that hackers hoping to extort a ransom fee won’t get a dime from your company.

How to Prevent Ransomware Attacks

Fending off ransomware requires organizations to keep computers, networks, and devices safe and secure around-the-clock. This doesn’t just mean installing a piece of security software and calling it a day. Users must follow best practices at their desks, on the web, and everywhere else in between to ensure bad actors don’t find their way into your network’s weakest points of entry.

Here are some of the most effective and simple ways of preventing ransomware from ending up on your business’ network:

Keep your computer and devices up-to-date. Running the latest versions of operating systems and applications goes a long way to ensure that organizations are equipped with the latest security features. Updated software frequently patches vulnerabilities found in earlier releases and can introduce new security capabilities that can prevent malware from opening or spreading. To avoid falling behind on new releases, turn on the automatic update capabilities of your applications and OS to always receive the latest software updates and patches.

Use antivirus software. Protecting your business requires software dedicated to protecting your business. Modern antivirus software is engineered to identify, mitigate, and prevent viruses, malware, and ransomware from making its way through your systems. Today’s best options stay connected to the internet to download new virus definitions and identify emerging threats, ensuring devices remain protected even as new types of malicious software begins to spread.

Avoid untrusted sources. Running an updated operating system and modern antivirus software may be able to reduce the threat of ransomware once it’s appeared on your system, but users must follow best practices to prevent dangerous files from appearing on your devices in the first place. Phishing attacks can serve as an easy point of entry for harmful content to spread throughout any network. Make sure users are trained to avoid clicking unverified links, opening questionable attachments, or engaging with dubious people over email or phone.

Never plug in questionable USB devices. Storing large files on USB drives for easy sharing throughout the office may not seem like a risky endeavor, but the same types of malware that proliferate across the internet can find its way onto any type of removable media. When it comes to plugging in a USB drive that can’t be easily identified, take caution to ensure it’s exactly what you think it is. For an extra layer of security, disable autoplay settings that automatically mount a drive once plugged in.

It’s crucial to have a backup system in place to protect your business from cyber-criminals.  If you need help implementing backup systems, contact one of our experts today.