How To Protect Against Ransomware

Nov 27, 2017

How To Protect Against Ransomware

BY Chris Brunau

Ransomware

With the amount of ransomware cases seeming to increase every day, wouldn’t it be great if you had a fool-proof guide to protect yourself? Well, you’re in luck.

Not only have we told you how ransomware is spread and informed you about some common types, now we’re going to tell you how you can protect against it.

Cyber criminals armed with ransomware are a formidable adversary. While small-to-midsized businesses aren’t specifically targeted in ransomware campaigns, they may be more likely to suffer an attack. Frequently, small business IT teams are stretched thin and, in some cases, rely on outdated technology due to budgetary constraints. This is the perfect storm for ransomware vulnerability. Thankfully, there are tried and true ways to protect your business against ransomware attacks. Security software is essential, however, you can’t rely on it alone. A proper ransomware protection strategy requires a three-pronged approach, comprising of education, security and backup.

  • Education: First and foremost, education is essential to protect your business against ransomware. It is critical that your staff understands what ransomware is and the threats that it poses. Provide your team with specific examples of suspicious emails with clear instructions on what to do if they encounter a potential ransomware lure (i.e. don’t open attachments, if you see something, say something, etc.). Conduct bi-annual formal training to inform staff about the risk of ransomware and other cyber threats. When new employees join the team, make sure you send them an email to bring them up to date about cyber best practices. It is important to ensure that the message is communicated clearly to everyone in the organisation, not passed around on a word of mouth basis. Lastly, keep staff updated as new ransomware enters the market or changes over time.
  • Security: Antivirus software should be considered essential for any business to protect against ransomware and other risks. Ensure your security software is up to date, as well, in order to protect against newly identified threats. Keep all business applications patched and updated in order to minimise vulnerabilities. Some antivirus software products offer ransomware-specific functionality. Sophos, for example, offers technology that monitors systems to detect malicious activities such as file extension or registry changes. If ransomware is detected, the software has the ability to block it and alert users. However, because ransomware is constantly evolving, even the best security software can be breached. This is why a secondary layer of defence is critical for businesses to ensure recovery in case malware strikes: backup.
  • Backup: Modern total data protection solutions, like Datto, take snapshot-based, incremental backups as frequently as every five minutes to create a series of recovery points. If your business suffers a ransomware attack, this technology allows you to roll-back your data to a point-in-time before the corruption occurred. When it comes to ransomware, the benefit of this is two-fold. First, you don’t need to pay the ransom to get your data back. Second, since you are restoring to a point-in-time before the ransomware infected your systems, you can be certain everything is clean and the malware can not be triggered again. 

Additionally, some data protection products today allow users to run applications from image-based backups of virtual machines. This capability is commonly referred to as “recovery-in-place” or “instant recovery.” This technology can be useful for recovering from a ransomware attack as well, because it allows you to continue operations while your primary systems are being restored and with little to no downtime. Datto’s version of this business saving technology is called Instant Virtualization, which virtualizes systems either locally or remotely in a secure cloud within seconds. This solution ensures businesses stay up-and running when disaster strikes.

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