Data is the lifeblood of any small or large business, and keeping it safe is paramount to success. The biggest threat to data security is criminal cyber-attacks that infect computers and network systems with a particularly malicious form of malware known as ransomware. Costs can be high with an attack, incurring idle downtime in which business grinds to a halt. Lost Communications, failing to meet deadlines, and botching delivery obligations can destroy customer confidence. Ransoms, for those businesses that elect to pay, can be exorbitant and after-the-fact measures to recover data and return to productivity are expensive.
An employee innocently clicking on an innocuous link in an email or visiting a questionable web page can set off an attack. Once in, ransomware will encrypt data and files, locking essential business information out of use. They instruct victims to pay a fee through cryptocurrency to obtain the encryption codes needed to recover their data, but payment is no guarantee that victims will receive these codes or if they’ll even work. Worse, businesses that do pay ransoms unwittingly advertise their vulnerabilities to hackers and often suffer repeated attacks. Here are three viable options to help prevent attacks and protect data.
Build Employee Awareness Through Training
An awareness training program for employees helps avoid cyber-attacks and goes a long way with building effective ransomware prevention. Good training should be recurring and continuously updated with current ransomware information. Many businesses build their own in-house training but there are many good options for this as an outside for-hire service.
Emails are particularly susceptible and employees should know the necessary precautions to take when opening their email. However, opening suspicious messages or clicking unknown links can initiate malicious code to run on business networks. Make sure email programs have active spam filters up and running.
Install and Use Anti-Malware Software
One of the most powerful tools to prevent a ransomware attack is good anti-malware software. It should be on all computer systems company-wide. Settings should provide for a continuously running firewall, and the software should update frequently. Keep the whitelist of safe email addresses and domain names current.
Update Programs and Backup Data
Windows, Microsoft Office, and any other software running on the network should automatically update to make sure it downloads any security patch that needs installing. You can set these to occur at a specified time, such as after business hours.
Cloud backups are a great tool to protect your data from cyber-attacks. Moreover, redundant backups in multiple locations, including removable hard drives, are advisable. Timing is crucial, and the more frequently the data is being backed up, the better off the safety of your business data will be.
One of the most important aspects of data backup is to have a recovery plan in place. However, make sure everyone knows the correct procedures and can act quickly to reduce any downtime. Write training procedures down and have readily accessible.
Businesses don’t have to be easy targets. Protect your important business data by adding anti-malware software to your current system, train your employees on how to avoid cyber-attacks, and perform regular backups of your data so you’ll be ready for whatever may happen.