Ransomware 101: What to Know to Keep Your Organization Safe

When you consider threats that may affect your business, what comes to mind? Likely, you think of competitors, natural disasters, or hardware malfunctions. But an often overlooked threat is growing rapidly and can be devastating to small businesses: ransomware attacks.

Ransomware affected 66% of organizations in 2023, according to a report by Sophos. These attacks come from a variety of bad actors, but they share a common goal: to hold your company’s data hostage until you pay a ransom. Faced with such a calamitous threat, your organization must have a plan in place in case you become a target.

Ransomware Attack Consequences

Ransomware attacks present a number of consequences, and the first of these is the loss of data access. This can stop business operations in their tracks as employees scramble to complete tasks without the necessary files.

As mentioned above, hackers steal data and hold it for ransom until you pay to retrieve it, but such attacks have also led to data breaches. For example, the bad actor encrypts your data and sells it on the dark web. Not only is your customer’s and vendor’s data at risk, but the stolen data can be leveraged to deploy data breaches in your network.

Ransomware attacks are dangerous and pricey affairs. According to a report by Palo Alto Networks, the average ransomware payment in 2021 was $541,010. That financial hit can harm any business, but it can be especially devastating for smaller organizations.

How to Guard Against Ransomware

Thankfully, there are steps businesses can take to protect themselves from ransomware. And, these steps can be implemented immediately.

Step 1: Employee Education: Think of your team as the gateway to your data, the first line of defense against malicious actors. Educate them about ransomware, including how it threatens your organization and how to identify ransomware attacks. With your employees keeping a lookout for threats, you can prevent some ransomware attacks before they even happen.

Step 2: Limit Access: IT managers can mitigate ransomware damage by restricting access to sensitive data. This move will limit a hacker’s abilities if they gain access to your staff’s credentials.

Step 3: Update Software: Outdated security software makes your cyber defenses more porous and, therefore, ransomware attacks more likely. Keeping your security software up to date not only maximizes operational efficiency, but it also fortifies your business against attacks.

Step 4: Implement a Backup Solution: Have a reliable backup solution in place to minimize damage should a ransomware attack occur. Backing up your data enables you to simply restore your files without having to pay attackers, bypassing much of the devastation altogether.

The potential threat of a ransomware attack is enough to make IT managers lose sleep, but you can rest assured that your organization’s data remains safe with the simple steps outlined above. For more cybersecurity solutions, work with a knowledgeable partner who can help shield your company from disastrous attacks.


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