Ransomware is one of the most common cyberattacks, hitting thousands of businesses every year. It is a relatively simple line of attack that can be very lucrative to hackers, only making it a more and more common form of cyber assault. If attacked, a business’ private information, client data, and even fiscal resources can be “held ransom” until the business pays the hackers to “unlock” the stolen information – or risk crippling the business via this loss of data.

How Does Ransomware Work?

Ransomware involves encrypting company data so that it cannot be used or accessed. Typically, hackers gain access in one of four ways: via an email attachment, via an advertisement click, via a simple embedded link, or even via a visit to a website infected with malware. 

Once the code is loaded onto a computer, it will lock access to the computer itself or the data stored there. Such malware can go so far as to encrypt local files, access to your local network, and even reach into other computers on your network to further perpetrate the attack. 

How Can I Tell If I am at Risk?

Everyone is a potential target for the ransomware hacker, but small businesses are especially at risk from these types of attack. Reports have shown over 70% of ransomware attacks target small businesses, with an average ransom demand of upwards of $120,000, mainly because smaller businesses are more likely to pay a ransom as their data is often not backed-up, and small businesses need to be up and running as soon as possible.

The other most-targeted kind of business is healthcare, as locking patient medical records and appointment times can damage a business to a point where it has no choice but to close, unless a ransom has been paid. 

How Can I Prevent a Ransomware Attack?

To prevent these attacks, businesses need to have strong endpoint protection in place across all business devices. Endpoint security is the practice of securing endpoints or entry points of end-user devices such as desktops, laptops, and mobile devices from being exploited by malicious actors and campaigns. These will help to stop ransomware attacks from being able to effectively encrypt data. Endpoint protections work by examining files as they enter your network and alerting the users and administrators of potential threats before they can take hold in your system. 

Businesses should also consider having an effective cloud back-up solution in place. These solutions backup company data securely in the cloud, helping to mitigate against data loss. 

The benefit of implementing data back-up and recovery is that in the event of a ransomware attack, IT teams can quickly recover their data without having to pay any ransoms, or lose productivity. This is an important step towards improved cyber resilience.

In Conclusion

Suffering a ransomware attack can cost a business thousands of dollars or cripple a growing business by implanting malware into your systems and locking you out of your data stores, holding your critical company data “hostage”. While ransomware attacks are on the rise because of their relatively simple nature and how lucrative they can be to hackers, it is also simple to defend and protect yourself against the possible assault. 

By employing strong endpoint protections, and by backing up your company data to a protected cloud system, you can defend yourself from malicious ransomware attacks. 

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