The fight to keep your business’s IT systems and data secure is one that is ever-evolving. As we learn to guard against new threats, hackers are also developing new attacks. It’s a digital arms race that many businesses are still losing simply because they aren’t aware of the growing risks.

Some of the latest threats have gained a lot of attention for just how much damage they can do and how easily they can bypass antivirus software and firewalls. Complex malware like ransomware falls into this category. In fact, its use is growing at such a rate that it is expected that a business will fall victim to a ransomware attack every 11 seconds in 2021.

Still, it’s estimated that only 5% of companies have adequate IT security coverage to protect against modern digital threats. Your Houston business cannot risk being one of the companies to fall prey to a ransomware attack. So, what do you need to know about ransomware and what should you do about it?

What Is Ransomware?

Without a doubt one of the most concerning types of cyberattacks is ransomware, a specific type of malware that requires businesses to pay ransoms to hackers before data is restored.

Once ransomware infects your system, it effectively locks off the user’s access to that data. The hackers can hold highly sensitive data hostage until the business pays a certain designated ransom. Often, the payment is requested in cryptocurrency, making the hackers next-to-impossible to trace. If the ransom isn’t paid, the hackers may erase or even publicly release the data.

Ransomware is so prevalent because it’s effective. To date, the largest ransomware payout was Nayana, who was forced to pay $1 million to hackers after negotiations. Given that the average ransomware attack costs over $84,000 per incident, not to mention the costs of downtime and the loss of sensitive customer information, many companies can’t afford to become the victim of such an attack.

Further, even if the ransom is paid, companies cannot guarantee that they will get their data back or that it won’t have already been severely compromised. Given these risks, the best practice is to prevent ransomware as thoroughly as possible through advanced cybersecurity services.

How to Prevent Ransomware:

Ransomware may seem difficult prevent, but your Houston business can put in place a range of preventative measures to significantly reduce your chance of being targeted, including the following:

    • Establish a layered security architecture:

      To best understand what routes hackers may take to steal your data, you have to have a firm understanding of where vulnerabilities lie in your current IT infrastructure.

      Mapping out your existing infrastructure is essential as it allows you to address which systems are protected and how and see where you can implement new controls to protect your data. Furthermore, your new security architecture should be equipped to identify users and whether or not they have the permissions to access what files and programs they are using.

    • Report on incidents much sooner:

      If you are able to more quickly spot a threat in the system, you may be able to mitigate the damage it can do. Incident-report procedures allow your team to highlight and respond to threatening situations as soon as they can.

      By making sure that the right people are notified sooner with detailed and accessible information, they can respond to the threat appropriately and take steps to prevent future incidents.

    • Anonymize your data:

      Tools such as anonymizers and proxy servers allow you to secure your data by shielding private information from anyone attempting to interfere with an open-net connection. It adds another layer of security to transfers, making it harder for hackers to see which data is being transferred where.

    • Invest in secured hosting:

      More secure hosting options, such as a private cloud, can offer a broader range of monitoring, meaning you can sooner be aware of threats and control access to stop threats in their tracks.

    • Make sure you have a Managed Service Provider to implement it all:

      To ensure you’re not missing a step, working with a Managed Service Provider (MSP) is key. They can provide ample security defenses, including 24/7 system monitoring, which immediately detects and patches system vulnerabilities so you can avoid ransomware attacks.

Your Houston business has not only a financial but a legal obligation to be aware of cybersecurity threats like ransomware and to protect the sensitive data that you collect from customers. An MSP with a cybersecurity focus can ensure that you’re not leaving yourself open to attack and that you stay compliant with cybersecurity regulations.

As your business takes the necessary steps to thoroughly protect its systems and train its staff on best cybersecurity practices, you can avoid the hefty tolls that ransomware takes and increase customer loyalty.