Friday, July 19, 2024

Ransomware. The Cyber Risk your business can’t afford.

The number of Ransomware attacks happening around the world is increasing every year and with Covid19 playing a huge role in all of our lives online scams are on the increase too.

Ottawa-based IT company Firewall Technical studied search engine data to look at the Ransomware that caused businesses the most bother. In the study, they found that WannaCry and NonPetya were the ransomware that people were most likely to be infected with but what exactly is ransomware?

What is ransomware

Ransomware is when cyber criminals encrypt your business files and then ransom access them back to you. This is primarily done through phishing emails or infected programs. When you are locked out of your system you will then be notified that your computer is infected and you need to pay to get your files back.

David Jones a computer security expert says that “phishing emails are one of the most common ways of getting your computer system infected. So as a business you should have a security protocol in place for making sure your system is safe.”

The cost of ransomware

Ransomware costs can be anything from hundreds of dollars to hundreds of thousands, so if you are a business that uses the internet and has staff then it would be much cheaper to hire an it support company to backup your data frequently rather than to pay the ransomers.

Some experts also believe that you shouldn’t pay the ransom either as you aren’t guaranteed to get your data back and you could be out of pocket twice by doing so. By paying the ransom you are allowing these scammers to keep their business running too.

But the cost of ransomware isn’t just financial it can have a huge impact on your business reputation too. Customer data being leaked can have a big impact on a business and can tarnish its reputation even though it may not have been their fault.

It’s important for businesses to protect themselves against ransomware and although most business owners are not cyber security experts with little knowledge they can minimise the chance of being held at ransom.

Minimising the risk of ransomware.

As a business owner, you should be backing up your data at regular intervals in case of any type of data loss. This doesn’t have to be from malicious code either this could be from a natural disaster or even a user error.  

If you aren’t backing up your data you are leaving yourself open to a cyber attack. The first step to protect yourself as a business is to back up your data. You can do this yourself if you don’t have a budget by using external hard drives or even the cloud.  

If you do have the budget you can hire an external IT company to help you with backing up your data. Data backups should be scheduled frequently so that if an attack does occur then your data is secure or you don’t lose too much of it to put your business in danger.

Prevention is also better than a cure in this instance, if you can teach your staff what to look out for when it comes to phishing, scams and websites not to visit then you have a much lower chance of getting your systems infected.

It also goes without saying that you should be running anti-malware, anti-virus and firewalls on your computer systems. You can get free software to do all of the above so you don’t have an excuse when it comes to protecting your system. You can also buy yearly subscriptions to the above for a small fee which is much cheaper than having to pay the ransom.

You should also make your staff or employees aware of what devices are permitted to be used in the office. It’s common for employees to use USB pens for personal and business use. This opens your business up to attacks as you have no idea if the USB pen is safe to use in your business.

Your staff also shouldn’t use media that is left around the office. While this may seem safe to do so it can be a trick used by hackers to get you to use the media to infect your systems.  

It’s important to know even with all of these steps in place that anyone can fall victim to a ransomware attack. WannaCry and NotPetya ransomware spread across millions of devices over 150 countries during its peak so it’s clear to see how quickly this can spread.

Sam Allcock
Sam Allcock
Sam heads up Cheshire-based PR Fire, an online platform that has already helped over 10,000 businesses to grab widespread media coverage on their news at an extremely accessible price point.

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