Practical Steps to Preventing and Responding to a Ransomware Attack

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Like many other types of cybercrime, ransomware attacks are on the rise. More business owners are reporting encounters with ransomware each year, and criminals are getting smarter in how they weave through cybersecurity systems and processes. Given the constant changes in technology, it’s not surprising that no two ransomware attacks are the same. And that means there isn’t a one-size-fits-all strategy for preventing them altogether.

With that said, learning about the problem and taking practical steps can help mitigate the impact these attacks have on your company and customers. Today, James Solomons shares some key information and advice on preventing and responding to a ransomware attack.

Understand Ransomware        

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) defines ransomware as “malware designed to encrypt files on a device, rendering any files and the systems that rely on them unusable.” Once malware is established, criminals offer decryption in exchange for payment.

What makes ransomware so tricky is that it can impact businesses regardless of their level of data protection. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce your company’s risk of falling victim to a ransomware attack and its devastating consequences.

Look for Signs       

The CISA regularly issues alerts of new ransomware threats. Malware like ransomware constantly evolves, so it’s essential to monitor the CISA alerts and heed the organisation’s guidance on how to respond to common attacks.

Another way to identify current ransomware threats is to monitor your website’s traffic. Cyberattacks can cause a site’s traffic to drop significantly. If you notice a drop, it could indicate a problem.

Make a Recovery Plan

No matter how many steps you take to avoid a cyberattack, you’ll never entirely safeguard your company and customer data. For that reason, it’s crucial to put a plan in place for how your business will recover from a potential ransomware attack.

Your plan should establish which team members will engage in the recovery, the programs and apps you’ll prioritise, and many other aspects. A solid recovery plan will help ensure your team can resume operations quickly with minimal consequences.

Use Secure Networks    

Another simple measure for preventing ransomware attacks is to make sure your company networks are as secure as possible. And if any of your employees use public Internet access points or work from home, invest in a virtual private network (VPN) service. A VPN will encrypt data and limit its connected devices’ exposure to ransomware and other cyber threats.

Update Your OS and Apps    

Microsoft, Apple, and other major tech companies offer regular updates for their operating systems and software. While it’s tempting to ignore those alerts on your devices, be sure to heed them when they’re available. Your employees should always download and install updates to ensure the appropriate security patches are in place to fight off the most current cyber threats. While you’re at it, back up critical company and customer data offline.

Respond Quickly   

Establishing a recovery plan for your company is crucial, but there are other helpful ways to respond to a ransomware attack:

  • Consult an attorney with experience in malware or data breaches.
  • File an Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) complaint.
  • Restart your Windows computers in safe mode and activate anti-malware software to remove the ransomware.
  • Remove suspicious apps from any affected Android devices and try to restart the devices in safe mode (even if you have to initiate the factory reset feature).
  • Ask your insurance provider if your policy covers any costs associated with your ransomware response.

Your company could face weeks if not months of downtime from a ransomware attack. Consult the tips above, and invest any necessary time and resources into preventing ransomware and other cyberattacks. And start putting together your recovery plan today.


Published by James Solomons

FCA, GAICD. Innovative Business Leader. Global CFO @Xref (ASX:XF1). Director at @business_Depot (formerly Aptus Accounting & Advisory @AptusAA). Former Head of Accounting @Xero Australia. Advocate, Entrepreneur & Educator #Family #Football #Fastcars!

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