Nearly 6 million cases of ransomware were reported last year. While attacks on individual consumers have declined, Ransomware attacks on businesses continue to rise. Recent attacks have targeted a wide range of businesses, including organizations in the consulting, education, manufacturing, and retail sectors. If they could target all these businesses, why not yours? Learn more about how ransomware could infect your business equipment, and what you can do to minimize the risks.
Ransomware can infect any internet-connected business device, including your desktop and laptop computers, your tablets, and your business phones. It may be attached to malicious emails — usually in a document or folder that seems pertinent to your business — or hidden on a rogue website. Once you activate the ransomware by opening the email attachment or visiting an infected website, it will take control of the device and, in some cases, others on your network.
The Impact of Ransomware Attacks
Ransomware attacks keep you from accessing your business data. Some ransomware programs lock devices so you can’t use them. Others encrypt your files so you can’t read or use them until you pay for an encryption key.
Businesses that pay ransom demands face financial losses, and there are no guarantees that paying the ransom will restore the infected systems or files. All too often, businesses lose their important data whether they pay the ransom or not. Losing key data can slow productivity and even cause businesses to experience substantial downtime while they try to recover the information. In the end, infected devices may need expensive major repair or replacement.
A ransomware attack could also damage your business reputation. Individual consumers and other businesses may be unwilling to work with companies whose sensitive data has been compromised. Should customers and business connections desert your organization, it may never recover. If the ransomware resulted from poor security or negligence, your business may even face legal consequences.
All these factors can take a substantial financial toll on organizations. Businesses have spent millions of dollars recovering from recent ransomware attacks.
How to Protect Your Business Equipment
Modern cybercriminals are increasingly savvy, but you may still outsmart them with some preventative strategies. The following tips can help you protect your business equipment from ransomware threats:
- Never open attachments or click on email links from unknown recipients.
- Only visit websites you know and trust when using company devices.
- Educate all staff on ransomware and best practices for managing emails and internet use.
- Ensure that your staff uses work devices only for professional activities, not personal tasks.
- Install anti-virus and anti-spyware software on all company devices.
- Use monitoring and detection tools that alert users to ransomware threats outlined by Proofpoint.
- Back up all files daily, on a reliable remote server if possible.
- Outline steps in your companies IT plan for handling a ransomware attack, such as isolating infected devices, restoring files from backups, and whether or not you would pay the ransom.
- Take out a cyber insurance policy for your business.
With ransomware attacks on businesses on the rise, your company’s equipment is increasingly vulnerable to threats. However, you needn’t become a statistic. Employing smart strategies within your organization can minimize your risk of becoming the latest ransomware victim.