31 August 2021
How to Prevent a Ransomware Attack: Tips for Businesses
Ransomware continues to be a major global threat, and with volumes increasing in Australia it is now more vital than ever that businesses protect themselves. Investing in preventative cyber security measures is much more cost effective than the funds required to recover from a ransomware incident.
What is Ransomware?
Ransomware is a type of malware that cybercriminals use to prevent access to files or systems until a ransom is paid. All individuals and organisations with information of value are potential targets. If a cybercriminal can halt business activities, they have sufficient reason to deploy ransomware in an attempt for financial gain.
Ransomware can infect a device in a similar way to other malware and viruses, often when a user:
- visits an unsafe or suspicious website
- opens an emails or file from an unknown source
- clicks on a malicious links in an email or social media post
What are the effects?
Ransomware is one of the most frequent and harmful types of malware. It can cripple an organisation by encrypting devices, folders, and files, rendering systems inaccessible. Cybercriminals then demand a ransom often via untraceable cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Cybercriminals may also demand a ransom to prevent public release of the data that was stolen during the incident.
The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) advises against paying ransoms as there is no guarantee that the cybercriminal will undo the damage. Payment of ransoms also potentially makes an organisation more vulnerable to future ransomware attacks.
How to prevent an attack
It is important to maintain regular offline backups and implement good cyber security practices. No single mitigation strategy will protect against all ransomware threats, so adopting multiple layers of defence is the best course of action. Here are some strategies you can put in place to protect your organisation:
- Back up computers, phones, and other devices regularly
- Remove administrative privileges from staff who do not require them
- Educate users about malicious hyperlinks
- Only browse sites with ‘https’ in the browser address bar
- Install and regularly update antivirus software
- Install a firewall to stop traffic from untrustworthy sources getting into the network
- Enable multi-factor authentication
- Ensure operating systems and software are regularly patched
- Disable macros in Microsoft Office where possible
How safe is your business when it comes to ransomware and other cyber threats? Check out our Checklist: How to Run a Business Security Audit or contact TechPath’s experts for a free security assessment.