With the advent of websites as a necessity to running a successful business, the last few years have seen an increase in the number of cyberattacks worldwide, from malware to ransomware. These breaches seem innocuous, but they can cause severe damage not only to your online home but to your business as a whole. Malicious activity can stunt your operations, prevent clients from making a purchase, tarnish your reputation, and affect your overall profit margins. Needless to say, protecting your digital assets is as non-negotiable as having a website.
Knowing your enemy is the first step in safeguarding your websites. There are various cyberattacks that malicious individuals perform to achieve personal gain. Arguably, ransomware is amongst the most popular and most concerning forms of cyberattack.
What is Ransomware
As the name suggests, ransomware is a form of malware that leverages the breach and procurement of sensitive data for financial gain. Malicious individuals who perform these attacks often target multinational companies. These hackers threaten to publish, delete, or withhold personal information unless the company or organization can meet their demands.
Without a doubt, the repercussions of a ransomware attack can cause severe damage to an organization. When it comes to this type of malware, ransomware protection is better than response.
How Does a Ransomware Attack Work
Depending on the type, there are various ways hackers can introduce ransomware to your network. One of the most popular means is downloads through spam emails. Once downloaded, the executable file launches in your system and proceeds with the attack. This breach encrypts your data, making them inaccessible – essentially holding them hostage.
What are the Different Kinds of Ransomware
Like malware, there are different types of ransomware you should know. These types vary in approach and severity, but every single one aims to extort money from target organizations.
This type of ransomware crawls through a computer or network and targets specific data that it can encrypt. It usually targets files, spreadsheets, and PDFs. Crypto ransomware allows the user to access other files on their computer, aside from the essential ones.
Doxware is unique because it is particularly devastating. This type of ransomware not only threatens to delete data, but it intends to publish it.
Like most ransomware, scareware restricts a user’s access to data. What makes it different is the way it extorts ransom. Once the hacker procures information, a window pop-up would start scanning your computer and would offer to fix the problem for a price. You wouldn’t be able to use your computer unless you pay the ransom.
Unlike crypto-ransomware, locker ransomware locks the entire computer. You wouldn’t be able to access any application without seeing a threatening ransom note.
How to Prevent Ransomware Attacks
As mentioned earlier, the effects of a ransomware attack can be detrimental to a business. If a breach is severe enough, it can cause a company to shut down completely. Preventing ransomware, more than developing steps in case of an attack, is the best approach in safeguarding your networks.
Educate Your Employees
Your first line of defense against ransomware is your employees. Likewise, they can also be the main culprits for an attack. There are several means ransomware can infiltrate your network. More often than not, these attempts look legitimate. It takes a keen eye to identify malicious content.
Equipping your workers with the skills to identify ransomware can prevent this malicious threat from affecting digital assets.
Make Sure All Device is Updated with Anti-Malware Applications
Anti-malware applications can detect ransomware. Investing in a zero-day security measure can help ensure that this data breach doesn’t create havoc on your operations. With that said, it is crucial to make sure that these anti-malware apps are updated. Otherwise, you do not get the full benefit of the security measure.
Do Not Forget to Have Back-ups
Having back-ups allows you to carry out routine operations even amidst an attack. It gives you time to address the situation without experiencing too much downtime. Once your tech team or personnel can contain the infection during a breach, you can do away with the infected computer entirely and choose not to acknowledge the hacker altogether.
What to Do During a CyberAttack
It cannot be stressed enough – when it comes to ransomware, your company is better off having ample protection than dealing with an attack. Nevertheless, regardless of your diligence, some malicious individuals are determined to infiltrate your network.
If your website or system is under siege, below are the steps that you can take to contain the situation:
Do Not Pay the Ransom
While it is tempting just to pay the ransom and move on with your operations, to succumb to the hackers’ wishes only encourages them to continue their malicious activity. Paying the ransom might expose you to even more attacks from the same hackers.
Disable the Network to Protect Other Computers
During an attack, your number one priority is safeguarding the rest of your digital assets. Disconnect the infected device from your network. Go offline and take a picture of the ransom note. Documenting the breach will make it easier to report to authorities should there be a need for it.
Check Your Back-ups
Once all your other assets are protected, check your back-ups. Make sure that you have what you lost on file. This way, you can address the ransomware without the threat of losing your data altogether.
Remove the Ransomware
With the information secure, it is time to clean the malware from the device. Most antivirus programs can perform ransomware removal. If the ransomware is sophisticated, it is best to call professionals.
In Some Cases, Call Law Enforcement
Not all attacks are created equal. If you suspect that the infection is severe enough to cause irreparable damage, contact the authorities.
Running a website and having an online presence isn’t the easiest, nor is it the cheapest expense. However, in today’s digital-first world, a website is key to reaching more people and maintaining your relevance in the current landscape.
Without a doubt, protecting your digital assets should be a priority. As cyber threats are expected to rise due to the pandemic, spending on cybersecurity will save you more than the true cost of a cyberattack‘s aftermath.