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Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 12 months, you’ve probably noticed that a number of prominent businesses and organizations, including Britain’s National Health Service have suffered devastating ransomware attacks.
Ransomware allows hackers to gain access to important data and even take full control over computer systems, which they then hold to ransom, hoping for a big payday. If you think that sounds scary, you’re right, it is! That’s exactly why, as a business owner, you should be doing whatever you can to protect your company from being held to ransom.
Here are a few ways you can start to protect your business from ransomware:
Backup All of Your Data Regularly
If you backup all of your business data at the end of each day and if you always keep your most recent backup offsite, then if a ransomware attack on your business does take place, the hackers will have very little hold over you and you will not be forced to pay a shocking sum to get your data back.
Hiding ransomware in email attachments is the most commonly known way that hackers infect computer systems, but actually, they have a lot more success hiding their code in macros on documents that can be downloaded from the internet. By having your IT support team disable macros on downloaded documents, you can, therefore, minimize your chances of being infected. This is actually very easy to do now, so there really is no excuse not to take this simple precaution.
Use Caution When Opening Attachments
That being said, you should still inform your employees that they are not to download email attachments, which are from unknown addresses, which are unsolicited, or which they are in any way dubious about. In fact, if it’s at all feasible for you to do so, banning the downloading of email attachments altogether could be a great move for your company.
Limit Login Powers
No one who requires access, whether they’re staff, IT support or your customers should have more login privileges than absolutely necessary to enable them to do their work. Your network should also be set up in such a way that staff are automatically logged out after a short period of inactivity because it is so easy for the wrong person to gain access to an unattended device and cause havoc.
Update Security Software Regularly
If you want to avoid having your data held to ransom, then your whole computer network and any devices that are ever connected to it, should not only have the latest security software installed, but it should be updated as soon as a newer version becomes available because everything, even your printers can be hacked. This means you should never let anyone connect a home device without first having it scanned for viruses and other nasties.
You should also ensure that you are making the best use of firewalls, not only to protect you from incoming threats online but also to put a buffer between different parts of the company, so that if one part should become affected, the rest won’t be.
Don’t Click Hyperlinks
If you or any members of your team are sent documents that contain hyperlinks, you should be very wary about opening them, whether they’re sent to you via email, on Facebook or even if they’re on a website that seems legitimate. That’s because there are so many hyperlinks that will send you to dodgy websites or even open a virus, that it might not be worth the risk. So, at the very least, think carefully about it.
Use the Show File Extensions Feature
If you operate a Windows network, then you really should take advantage of the show file extensions feature because it will enable you to very quickly see what kinds of files your employees are opening. If you (or even better your IT team) know what you are looking for, then you will be able to stop possibly harmful files from infiltrating your system and holding your important data to ransom.
Turn the Internet Off
If you do happen to notice that a dodgy file has been opened or a suspicious process of being carried out on your network, the most important thing you can do is to very quickly turn off your office internet connection off. If you can do this in the early stages of a ransomware attack, the software won’t be able to connect with its server, and thus hackers will not be able to get their hands on your data.
Although this Windows tool is very good for restoring older versions of your files, it can also be exploited by people using malware to hack into your network and cause chaos, so it might be worth considering having it disabled, then should malware find its way onto your computer, it will not be able to use shadow volume snapshots to do its thing.
Use Pop-Up Blockers
If you and your employees are going to be using the internet, then you really should ensure that each and every device on your network has browser add-ons to prevent pop-up ads installed on it. Many of these ads are actually Trojan horses for ransomware and can cause untold damage to your business if they are allowed to go unchecked.
Disable Remote Services
Services like Remote Desktop Protocol certainly have their uses, especially when you need to call technical support, but they can so easily be used by hackers to get into your network and start installing their own malware, that it’s probably best to disable them for the most part.
Invest in a Good It Team
Finally, and perhaps most importantly of all, having a good IT team in place will help you to keep your network under control and see off threats before they ever have a chance of hurting your company. If you do all of the above, hackers and scammers will have a much harder time getting into your network and spreading their malicious malware.
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