As a small business owner, you cannot afford cyber extortion. Cybercriminals specifically target small and medium enterprises because they have fewer security measures as compared to larger institutions with dedicated IT departments. Learning how to defend your business begins with understanding what ransomware is and what makes you susceptible to these kinds of attacks.
Ransomware is a form of malware that encrypts your files. After the attack gets into your system, the attacker demands a ransom from you in order for them to restore your access to the data. The malware first needs to gain access to devices you use in your business. It then infects your entire operating system or encrypts individual files.
Reasons why your organization is potentially at risk of a ransomware attack include:
Chances are that as a small organization, you have an operating system that is yet to be upgraded or even updated. This, in itself, is a factor that puts your business at risk of the most active ransomware families. These legacy systems, for instance, the SMB service in the Windows OS, make you vulnerable to ransomware attacks.
To fully protect yourself, you need to schedule often upgrades on your system. Additionally, you require compensating controls that limit access to the core infrastructure. It would be best if you also considered having your infrastructure consistently tested for potential impact by penetration testers.
Vendors put your organization at risk. This requires that you have a strategy in place to view the vulnerability of your IT assets. It would be best to consider having some security level in place to manage any vendor assets you have, as these will often have a risk appetite that you cannot afford to ignore. Part of mitigating this risk is recognizing any existing vulnerabilities and creating a protection protocol that should sufficiently protect your organization.
Part of having a limited IT infrastructure is having unused services, open ports and overlooked OS functions. These are easy prey for cybercriminals looking to inject your system with ransomware. System hardening policies are a collection of tools, techniques and practices that reduce your system’s vulnerability to potential attacks. Using these policies, you should be able to remove any superfluous files, ports, permissions, and accesses that could be potential routes for ransomware into your system. Fortunately, you do not need to harden all your systems at once. You can create a strategy and plan that analyzes your technology ecosystem and remediates the biggest flaws. All the same, you need to patch any vulnerabilities immediately.
For the uninformed business owner, antivirus software is sufficient to protect against malware. Unfortunately, overreliance on antivirus or a perimeter protection package puts you at a greater risk of ransomware.
Notably, an antivirus is not designed to protect you from a ransomware attack. It can only protect you from known viruses which is not a go-to for most cybercrimes syndicates. Besides, perimeter protection cannot protect you from breaches caused by human error. You will require a true multi-layer approach that protects your data, networks, recovery plans, and employees.
Most businesses will have a network that is not segmented or separated into different broadcast areas. At times, systems administrators will use network hubs instead of switches and routers to connect the various devices within the organization.
This type of topology makes it increasingly possible for malicious files to spread within the system. It makes it easy for ransomware files to jump from one system to the other. Your open ports can be abused, and your password directories cracked open.
A safer alternative would be to have a hierarchical network design in which your infrastructure is divided into discrete layers. To be even safer, consider having this network architecture protected at each tier to ensure that the ransomware file does not spread.
While online backup solutions like the Cloud are thought to mitigate or completely eliminate security risks, there are risks attached to the rapidly changing landscape. Security risks are inherent in that some of these online backup solutions rely on shared servers. These servers can be used as potential upload routes for malware that could infect your system. Besides, some of the APIs and storage gateways can be used as insecure gateways into your system even when you have a reputable security feature in place. Notably, while these online backup solutions offer efficiency, it would be wise to test them periodically for possible intrusions.
Your system can never truly be free of any threats regardless of the preventive measures you have in place. You have to monitor it for any attempts at a break-in consistently. This is especially since threat actors are consistently creating stronger ransomware aimed at beating your system. Unfortunately, most business owners will not consistently tweak their cybersecurity measures which put their systems at risk. The best thing would be to set controls that report on any circumvention attempts and continuously working on these to make sure they work perfectly.
Overall, it would be best to keep in mind that no single OS is secure by design. Ransomware attacks are attempted every 14 seconds. A majority of these are attempts by cybercrime syndicates to push said ransomware onto enterprise networks. Therefore, as a small business owner, you are expected to be ready and have response capabilities to fight off said cybercrime organizations in order to have a robust and healthy IT system. Security policies need to be in place to address any concerns and modify the controls to ensure you have a protective perimeter around your IT infrastructure. Techsperts is dedicated to offering IT and computer support expertise to businesses in the New Jersey area to fight off ransomware. Our technicians provide state-of-the-art technology services, including strategic and fully managed IT services, in a timely and cost-effective manner. Our computer, network, and data security solutions ensure that you are protected from fraud and ransomware attacks. Schedule a no-obligation free consultation today with Techsperts to learn how you can protect your business from ransomware attacks.