Protecting your business from ransomware: a guide

How to protect your business from ransomware Web 1400x800

Every 14 seconds, one business falls victim to a ransomware attack. Malware doesn’t discriminate and can be devastating to large corporations and small businesses alike. So the question becomes—what measures can you take to mitigate cyber risks and protect your valuable business assets?

While VPNs are popular with consumers who want to maintain online security, they aren’t the only ones to benefit from VPN technology. For better protection against ransomware and other criminal activities, corporations must develop a robust preventive strategy—with a VPN at its core.

Why are businesses at risk?

Companies in the US and beyond report hundreds of ransomware attacks every year, and that number is growing.

Businesses are particularly lucrative targets. While criminals can force an individual to pay for the return of their data, corporate victims often have more to lose.

If a hacker takes control of a company server, they can restrict access to essential data or steal customers’ personal information. Businesses also have more money to spend, leading  attackers to attempt larger-scale extortion. Cybersecurity experts estimate that costs of ransomware attacks will top 20 billion dollars by 2021, bringing at least a billion in profit to cybercriminals each year. 

Clearly, building a secure network infrastructure for your business is key in today’s digital landscape. And as far as cyber threats go, using a good business VPN with threat protection will boost your network security and prevent ransomware from reaching valuable information.

How does ransomware work?

Ransomware is installed through a variety of channels. It might be forced onto a device through malvertising or downloaded accidentally by an employee via phishing emails. With remote work soaring, unsecured endpoints are ripe for exploitation. Using a vulnerable hotspot—from public Wi-Fi to a home router—could put an entire company at risk.

Once an infection begins, malicious software can rapidly overtake a server.

A ransomware program encrypts the contents of a server, making files impossible to retrieve. You could lose access to vital information, from customer details to entire databases. Once this process is complete, the attacker will offer to send you the encryption key—for a price.

Paying up doesn’t necessarily guarantee the end of the ordeal, of course. FBI officials advise companies not to pay the ransom, as there's no guarantee that hackers will honour their terms after the victim pays. 

Reports suggest that only about a quarter of ransomware victims ever get their data back after paying. Once your machine has been infected, it’s a lose-lose dilemma.

If you’re lucky and the criminal decides to send you the key, that might not be the end of your trouble. When a company pays the ransom, hackers see it as an easy target. Giving in to ransom demands only encourages further attacks, causing more long-term damage to your business.

According to the SentinelOne report, almost three quarters of all corporations suffered another attack after paying the ransom.

How bad can a cyber attack be?

The costs of a ransomware attack can quickly mount up. Beyond the extortion payment, companies have to consider costs of downtime, data loss and disruption, as well as reputational damage. All of that combined might cost your average business close to a million dollars.

That’s not to say that ransomware is the only thing your business needs to worry about. Attackers will be looking for anything that can benefit them, so stealing customer information is another way they can turn a profit.

Breaches of any kind will damage consumer trust, leak sensitive data, and lead to costly lawsuits. More than ever, as cyber attacks evolve and proliferate each year, businesses need to plan and adequately prepare for the worst.

How to prevent cyber attack damage

Cyber attacks may be a growing threat, but preventative strategies are evolving, too. Here are three steps to improve your company’s safety.

  • Install VPNs across company hardware

Securing the myriad devices that access your databases and internal networks is key. The simplest and most comprehensive approach is to ensure that employees use a VPN to encrypt and protect their machines.

With NordLayer, you can protect multiple devices and maintain secure communication channels. Using encryption to limit the risk of an endpoint breach is a great way to fortify yourself against malware and hacking. 

  • Raise awareness of best practices within the organization

Your employees will often be your first line of defence, making regular training on industry-wide protocols critical. Make sure you bring new threats to the attention of all workers—especially those based remotely—and reinforce a DevSecOps culture of shared responsibility. 

  • Back up your data regularly

As we’ve already established, it’s not a good idea to pay the ransom when the attacker has already encrypted your server. For that reason, it will be useful to perform regular backups of your essential data. If you’re ever hit by a ransomware attack, you can use your backup data to restore lost files and essential databases.

To fight today’s cyber threats, you need tomorrow’s solutions. With cybercrime on the rise, securing your company’s data, systems and networks is key to surviving in our digital era. By taking control of your business security now, you pave the way for its future success.

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