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Over the last few years, Ransomware has become one of the larger security threats for small businesses to date.
If you aren’t familiar with what Ransomware is, it’s a malicious piece of software that will search your computer and network drives to encrypt all your files. Once the files are encrypted, you would be provided with a ransom notice asking to pay in BitCoin to have the files decrypted. Along with this, there is also the risk that your files may not be decrypted even if you do pay.
How Do You Protect Yourself?
There are many things that can be done to prevent this sort of incident happening to your organization, but we have to look at the “worst case scenario first” as it’s the most important.
If your business is affected by Ransomware, we need to be able to fully recover the data which has been encrypted. If there aren’t any working backups, we probably won’t be able to recover the encrypted files.
As a first approach, we recommend to have a solid backup and recovery plan along with monthly testing to ensure the backups are working properly. If you are currently using an IT service provider, ask them to also monitor the backups on a daily basis. If a backup fails, we want to know about it right away and resolve the issues that could be preventing a backup from completing.
In addition to having the backups performed locally, we recommend having a cloud backup solution which also provides capabilities of archiving your data. This would assure you have several recovery points to choose from if you were to get affected by Ransomware.
Now that we got the most important point out of the way, we can look at additional prevention methods against these malicious attacks.
If you are using a server hosted locally or in the cloud, you will want to use a SPAM filtering service for your emails. These services inspect each email coming in to the environment, and scan the attachments, content, links, email addresses (and more), before sending the email to your mail server. If there is anything that is a security threat, it would quarantine the email and send you (the recipient) a notice to let you know that an email has been quarantined.
While this may protect emails coming to your organization, this won’t protect your network if someone happens to check their personal email (Gmail, Hotmail, etc). If a user opens a browser and happens to click on a malicious link, your environment could still be prone to these items.
Without a doubt, anti virus is required in any business environment. Since Ransomware has evolved, the companies making anti virus products have been adding additional layers of security in their products to stop ransomware by identifying the behaviour.
One product vendor that has been highly focusing on preventing ransomware is BitDefender (which comes included with our Managed Services offering). They have added additional protection to their products specifically for ransomware infections.
Controlling File Access
In our time in servicing clients, we have seen open networks that allow all users to be able to access any document on the server. If any one of the workstations gets infected with ransomware, it would have access to all the files on the network.
By identifying who needs access to certain files, and segregating the environment you are minimizing the impact that ransomware encryption could have on your server. For example, if a receptionist would only have access to limited items. If her workstation is impacted, it would only affect what she has access to.
Many organizations continue to operate on routers designed for small businesses or home based routers. These may be great for the basic needs and give you some of what you may need, but from a security and prevention standpoint your network could be at risk.
When you upgrade to a business class firewall, you also have the options of purchasing additional modules for malware prevention, gateway anti-virus, intrusion prevention. Having these services in place can definitely help minimize the impact of malicious attacks on your network.
By taking this proactive approach, you can rest assured that your network and date is safe by placing the additional safeguards in place to prevent a catastrophic situation from taking place.
As we take security very seriously at Avalon IT, we provide solutions such as anti-virus and SPAM protection with our services. Talk to us today to see if your environment is ready to handle ransomware