Ransomware is now by far the most damaging and costly form of cyberattack, having done over $20 billion in damages to small and midsized businesses in 2021.
Globally, the cost of ransomware attack is set to reach $265 billion annually by 2031, according to in-depth research from Cybersecurity Ventures.
With ransomware now a chronic source of risk, the question becomes: What can businesses do about it? Although there is no way to eliminate the possibility of ransomware infection, businesses can employ several effective strategies to lower the chance of ransomware attack and contain the damage of an attack that bypasses their cyber defenses.
The single best way to protect your business is to have a well-trained workforce. For a ransomware attack to get past your perimeter defenses and infect your systems, it needs a delivery mechanism.
The most common way to deliver a ransomware attack is in fraudulent communication, typically an email attachment or an SMS message. This method, known as “phishing,” is designed to exploit the trust and naivete of an unsuspecting office worker.
This threat is now even more urgent as new and low-cost means of launching ransomware attacks have started to proliferate on the dark web in recent years. It costs as little as $1,000 to launch a ransomware attack, with cybercriminals seeing a return of up to $1 million on that minimal investment.
Thankfully, modern cybersecurity awareness training approaches have kept track of the latest ransomware and phishing attacks.
By delivering regular, interactive training sessions along with quizzes and reporting dashboards, organizations can integrate cybersecurity awareness into their daily workflows and prepare staff for the threat of ransomware.
By training your staff on the following topics, you can transform your staff into excellent first-line ransomware defense:
Another common scheme that cybercriminals will use to infect your systems with ransomware is systems that haven’t been updated. According to numerous reputable sources, most ransomware attacks target systems that aren’t being systematically updated.
Unfortunately, many businesses don’t have the internal manpower to regularly patch and update their systems. Patch management takes time, diligence, and effort to do correctly, especially in mid-sized organizations that are managing servers, personal computers, mobile devices, and various other network endpoints at the same time can become a serious administrative task.
Companies struggling with patch maintenance often could greatly benefit from a partnership with an IT partner, such as a managed IT service provider (MSP). An MSP provides expertise, tooling, and streamlined processes to ensure that updates are applied and systems are tested on schedule. This expertise helps to close one of the critical ransomware infection vectors.
In addition to strong technical protections, there are ways to configure and manage your technology to help reduce your vulnerability to ransomware.
Restrict Administrator Access
Many businesses overlook the importance of restricting the number of administrator accounts on your network. As business networks expand, the number of unauthorized software applications installed on PCs and mobile devices increases as well.
Each of these applications provides an entry point for malware. By removing administrator rights, you can reduce the chance that an infection on a single PC becomes a network-wide catastrophe.
Enforce Least Privilege
Once unnecessary administrator accounts have been eliminated, you should also look at enforcing what’s known as “least privilege” throughout your system, which means providing users with only the system access they need to do their work.
By enforcing least privilege throughout your organization, you reduce the chance that stolen credentials lead to ransomware infestation and help prevent a hacker’s so-called “lateral” movement within your network.
Deploy Multi-Factor Authentication
Going deeper, you should also install multi-factor authentication (MFA) on all your network endpoints, especially critical systems.
For example, modern ransomware kits are built to identify and attack backup systems, leaving businesses no choice but to pay the ransom to free their data. Securing those systems with an MFA solution helps prevent that from happening.
Living with the threat of ransomware means acknowledging that even the best cyber defenses will not eliminate the chance of ransomware infection.
Human error, technical mishap, or a very persistent hacker can compromise even the strongest cyber defense, which is why all businesses should have a thorough and well-tested disaster recovery (DR) solution.
When deploying a new DR solution or significantly overhauling an existing one, start by mapping your network to see how data flows between your systems, then identify critical data that require priority. Once you have that information, analyze all the risks your network faces – not just ransomware attack – to identify the best DR strategies and tools to mitigate those specific risks.
Like any technology effort, you can’t just deploy a backup and disaster recovery solutions then take it for granted. The network technology at any business is highly dynamic, with new and old data moving throughout systems and employees every day.
To ensure that your DR solution continues to function properly over the long term, you must TEST the solution regularly to ensure that your team can access critical data. Also, ensure that you’re meeting the desired recovery point objective (RPO) and recovery time objective (RTO).
Learn more about disaster recovery testing and metrics.
Remember: As with any critical IT function, you should document your DR plan so that stakeholders from across your organization have a clear understanding of their responsibility and a centralized place for collaborating on DR-related initiatives.
The best way for a business to maximize its cybersecurity protections and mitigate the threat of ransomware infestation is to partner with a cybersecurity firm.
If your business in Charlotte, North Carolina, Albany, NY, Bluffton, South Carolina, or Savannah, Georgia, wants to learn more about outsourced cybersecurity, we encourage you to reach out to the friendly Complete Network team any time at 877-877-1840 or [email protected]
In an ideal world, technology would be a consistent source of competitive advantage and benefit for small and midsized businesses. The reality is that many fail to realize that confidence.
Without the right resources and support, even a highly skilled technology team can become overwhelmed by the growing list of technology management duties. When important tasks get neglected, it creates ripple effects throughout an organization that damage productivity and efficiency.
The co-managed IT services model solves these problems by providing your existing IT team with all the support and resources they need to successfully plan, manage, and defend your network technology.
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