More and more high profile ransomware attacks are being reported in the media, and they are becoming a legitimate worry for many businesses. In this article we look at five simple steps you can take to help you to mitigate the risks of your business being badly affected by a ransomware attack.
A ransomware attack involves unauthorised people gaining access to your technology infrastructure and encrypting the data or even stealing it to stop you from accessing it. The criminals will then hold this data ‘to ransom’ by telling you that you can only stop the attack and regain control of your data by paying them a fee. This will often mean that you feel you have no choice but to pay them or you will lose everything.
It is clear then, that prevention is much better than the cure when it comes to your data security, if you can take steps to prevent a ransomware attack before it can begin then you are in a better position, to begin with.
1. Know your data
The first step in mitigating your risks of a ransomware attack is to know your data by answering questions such as;
What data do you hold?
Where is it held?
Is it backed up?
Where does it back up to?
Another key point of this exercise is to identify whether the data is sensitive. Answering these questions can help you to identify what sort of security you require and where to protect the data that you hold.
2. Understand the risks
The cyber threat landscape is always evolving, so it is important to make sure that you keep up to date on the latest trends in ransomware and if you are not already in the technology sector it is not necessarily an area that you will be up to date on. A good place to start is the NCSC website where you can sign up for their alerts to keep up to date on the latest threats.
3. Train your staff
Most cyber threats can be avoided entirely by ensuring that your staff know what they are looking for when it comes to suspicious emails or entry attempts to your systems. No attack can happen without first gaining access to your systems. These often come in the form of emails or as software downloaded from sources on the internet that are not safe. Ensuring that your staff know what suspicious looks like or who to ask if they aren’t sure can stop an attack before it even has the chance to happen.
4. Have a plan – and test it!
Failing to plan is planning to fail – especially where a ransomware attack is concerned. We touched on this in a previous blog but ensuring that you have a plan with clear responsibilities, procedures and lines of communication will help you to get your business back up and running most efficiently. Just having the plan isn’t enough, you must make sure that you have tested your response plan to ensure that it is effective to avoid further complications during an attack where your response is critical and make any changes necessary well before you are in a position to need your plan in a real incident.
5. Audit your data regularly
If you are guilty of holding too much data, then you are giving a potential criminal more data to access. Whilst some data needs to be kept and archived by law, you are likely keeping far more data than you need. If you don’t have a lot of data to steal or encrypt then even if a criminal did gain access to your systems they don’t have as much leverage over you with regards to trying to charge you a ransom.
Any business can fall victim to a ransomware attack at any time, and whilst these 5 steps can help you be more prepared for an attack they cannot stop them from happening at all.
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