The first known ransomware attack happened way back in 1989. Then, people were still learning to navigate the nascent world of digital technology, and this kind of invasion was a brand new breed of enemy. Today, ransomware is one of the most prevalent threats to businesses and individuals alike. If you are not familiar with the term, keep reading for an explanation and tips on how to protect yourself and your assets.

What is ransomware?

Ransomware is a type of computer virus that blocks access to data on your network or PC. These viruses are usually brought into a computer system by an infected link or email attachment. Once your files are encrypted, the sender demands money to give you access again. Email is a popular avenue for delivering ransomware. Criminals do this by learning about their targets through Social Media. What you post on Facebook and Instagram can give cybercriminals the information they need to create emails that look genuine but are fraudulent. Many ransomware attacks targeting businesses are disguised as official and urgent email correspondence.

Cybersecurity service professionals can help Nashville businesses prepare for an expected increase in ransomware attacks in 2020. Here are a few tips on how to get started with protecting your own systems.

Filter incoming emails.

Phishing and spam emails are your most significant threat. Install and use an email filtering program throughout your entire operation. ImageQuest’s cybersecurity service advisors can guide you toward the most effective filtering technology.

Update your systems.

There is not a business in Nashville that does not need regular system updates. A cybersecurity service can ensure that your computers, servers, and other devices are always up-to-date with the latest cybersecurity patches. A good example of why these updates are necessary is the 2017 “WannaCry” ransomware event, which caused widespread panic throughout the world.
Malware targeted a vulnerability in the Windows Server Message Block, and spread itself through network systems. Microsoft issued emergency patches to eliminate the vulnerability, and a researcher found a “”kill switch” in the malware code. The kill switch nearly halted the virus’s spread, allowing companies time to install the emergency patch and protect themselves.

Use antivirus software.

Antivirus software can halt many intrusions. When combined with a robust firewall and system patches, antivirus software can go a long way toward keeping your electronic business records out of harm’s way. For best results, your antivirus program should also be kept current. Companies with more sophisticated needs likely should add system monitoring that quickly detects intrusions and other unauthorised activity on networks.

Install a whitelisting program.

A whitelist is a group of applications or programs your organization authorises for use. It can also include an approved list of users or email contacts. This is a ransomware prevention method because it requires prior approval before something is installed on a device under the umbrella of your network. Our Nashville-focused cybersecurity service experts can assist with this process to keep your business going.

Practice user control.

Any good cybersecurity service provider will recommend separating administrative and standard user accounts. Creating a barrier between the two types of users ensures control over access and lessens the probability that a single account’s compromise will not adversely affect your entire network. The cybersecurity service teams at ImageQuest of Nashville can handle this task, plus add additional security measures across your entire organization. These include multi-factor authentication and Privileged Access Management solutions.

Train employees.

Ask your cybersecurity service about employee training for businesses in Nashville and throughout Middle Tennessee. Employees that lack an understanding of digital threats are your company’s single biggest weakness. Training on how to spot a potential threat and what to do when systems are compromised can save you from costly and unnecessary downtime.

To pay or not to pay?

Most IT professionals caution against paying the ransom requested. Not only does this give the hackers what they want, but it also does not guarantee that you will regain control of your systems. It also places you at risk for future attacks. Remember, these are criminals. They stole your data, and they cannot be trusted to provide a reliable recovery method. And considering that you almost certainly cannot trace them, forking over hundreds or thousands of dollars is not a risk worth taking.

Ransomware is a serious problem and one that is not going to simply go away. If you have files, you are a target. Thankfully, the most effective methods of protecting your company’s valuable digital assets are cost-effective and relatively easy to implement.

ImageQuest offers cybersecurity service, including system monitoring, for businesses in Nashville and the surrounding areas. For more information and to protect your systems, contact us today at 888.979.2679.