If not, maybe you should be. According to Kaspersky Lab, the number of users affected by file encrypting ransomware rose from 131,000 in 2014-2015 to 718,000 in 2015-2016! Extorting money from individuals and organisations has become a big business and unfortunately signature based PC Anti-Virus software just isn’t able to keep up.
Imagine that all your digital files are locked within minutes of downloading a compromised file, and the only way to access them again is to pay the same criminals who encrypted them. What’s worse is that they might not even honour the deal or some files may be damaged beyond repair. This sort of situation can cause major downtime, loss of earnings and in some cases the end of a business.
Now are you concerned about ransomware? Well that’s Step 1. in making sure you’re not a number in next year’s statistics, now for the next steps:
Step 2 – Secure your perimeter
Your place of work has walls and doors to stop people just walking in and taking what they want, so too should your network. In fact, it should be even more secure as with an internet connection your business is accessible from anywhere in the world. These days a router/firewall just isn’t enough to keep the cyber criminals at bay. A basic ‘packet inspection’ firewall is like having a door with a simple three-digit key-code. Yes, it will stop opportunists but if somebody has the code or can guess it they’re in your system and can bring whatever they want with them. Modern malware is hidden and packaged within usually safe web pages and e-mail attachments making it harder to detect. To do so you’ll need a Unified Threat Management (UTM) solution which is more like a door with a metal detector and a guard. Again if people know the code they can get in but you’ll be able to check them and what they’re bringing in allowing you to reject who and what you don’t want.
Step 3 – Build a Security Team
We all work better in a team as each person brings expertise in different areas to improve the group as a whole. The same is true when talking about security software. Hopefully, these days all computers have some form of Anti-Virus software but the classic AV systems aren’t specialists in trying to catch malware and ransomware. That’s where Anti-Malware software comes in, these systems are specifically designed to look for and stop exploits that can hitch a ride in normal applications and safe attachment types. Working with Anti-Virus applications, Anti-Malware is able to help you achieve a greater level of protection on your computers.
Step 4 – Control Unwanted Guests
Visitors are often part of everyday office life and providing access to your wireless internet is common-place if not expected. We also have our own mobile devices that are often allowed to access the corporate wireless network for cheaper/faster internet access. However, you have no idea where all these devices have been or what’s on them. By allowing access to your main network wirelessly, you are potentially opening the back door to everything you’re trying to keep out with UTM firewalls and security software. Guest and personal devices need to be completely separated from your main network by using secure wireless devices that can offer multiple separate networks keeping your business critical data out of reach.
Step 5 – Prepare your People
Make sure staff know about the risks of ransomware and what to look out for when dealing with files from the internet. They should also only have access to what they need, files should be organised based on who needs what and general staff shouldn’t have admin rights on their computers as this makes it easier for infection to spread. By controlling access to digital files you are effectively putting more doors in the way of potential intruders making it harder for your entire system to be compromised.
Step 6 – Patch Work
Keeping applications up-do-date is vital. Software suppliers are always working to fix bugs and plug security holes in their apps. You need to make sure that Windows Updates are installed when available and that malware favourites like java and flash are also the latest version.
Step 7 – Plan BC
Unfortunately you always need to prepare for the worst. Every step you take will reduce the risk of infection or encryption of your files but the cyber criminals are always one step ahead. Not only that but the people within your business can also be a threat to your electronic data. Be it an accidental deletion of files or a malicious ex-employee who causes chaos before their remote access is shut down, you need to make sure the business has a good Plan BC (or Plan Business Continuity) in place. That way if files are destroyed, locked or held to ransom you can ignore the threats and restore your data quickly and easily from a recent backup.