Hackers Never Sleep
Earlier this year, an international ransomware attack incapacitated England’s National Healthcare System (NHS) while also disrupting operations at several private and public agencies in countries across the globe. Christened WannaCry, the ransomware attack ultimately infected over 400,000 machines by exploiting a well-known vulnerability in the Windows 7 operating system. While only .07% of WannaCry victims paid the requested ransomware, the total losses resulting from the attack have been calculated in the billions.
Ransomware attacks garner most of the attention when it comes to hackers and cyber crime, and with good reason. In a nutshell, ransomware is part of the larger malware type of attack that disables a computer’s functionality by encrypting files. Once it sneaks in via an email attachment or camouflaged link, ransomware begins automatically locking down all the files on a computer or network drive. Once the files are encrypted, a ransom message will appear, demanding payment in exchange for a decryption key.
Because their only goal is to collect a ransom, the perpetrators of these types of attacks make compliance easy and will often help victims navigate through the process with detailed instructions about Bitcoin payments and even help lines manned by informed and courteous support staff.
Viruses, spyware, and automated bots also fall under the category of Malware, which includes any malicious software designed to harm or compromise computers, mobile devices or cloud services. But there are things you can do to help safeguard your system against attacks.
Always Have a Backup
When malware strikes, the loss of files and critical data can paralyze an organization. As the business community continues to switch from paper to digital records, every gigabyte becomes a precious commodity. While hackers represent the flashiest threat to your database, in truth there are many other reasons you should store critical information in multiple formats – natural disasters, accidents, and even user error can wipe your entire trove in an instant.
Of course, the easiest way to back up your data is by replicating your information on to a separate service with scheduled updates. Unfortunately, if your secondary data system remains connected to your network, it can also be vulnerable to malware attacks, as well as any incident, like fire or a power surge, that could damage your primary database. As a result, for many businesses, a cloud-based data storage system offers a cost-effective and secure alternative. By storing your information in the cloud, either independently or with the help of a managed service provider, you gain extra security and the peace of mind that comes with knowing you can access your data whenever you need it.
Stengthen Your Security Perimeter
As a small business owner, deploying powerful security protocols will keep your system safe, but even the toughest battlement can be compromised if the gatekeepers aren’t paying attention. Your employees access your network every day, and their inattention or ignorance could lead to catastrophe.
Because users represent the weakest part of any security system, training staff on secure passwords and phishing schemes must be a priority. Malware only succeeds once it gets inside your network, and while a layered security approach including firewall and antivirus protection is a must, your staff must remain vigilant as well. Educating personnel on secure passwords and the dangers of social engineering can go a long way towards safeguarding your system. When it comes right down to it, the weakest point in your network is not your hardware or even your software; it’s the person sitting in front of the keyboard.
If staff access the network through mobile devices, you must also take device management into account, including user onboarding and termination as well as identifying the appropriate level of remote access assigned to an employee based on their responsibilities and “need-to-know” status. Mobile devices expand the security perimeter beyond a physical location. Because sensitive material is now portable, mobile device management demands precise tracking and permissions management.
Your Partner in Protection
These days, to defend yourself from cybercriminals you must go far beyond the standard by deploying layers upon layers of security. A firewall alone is not enough. Antivirus software will only get you so far. Email filters work, but only if employees follow the safety guidelines. Anti-spam tools can work wonders, but they must be used in concert with cloud storage and network oversight.
Data security remains a moving target: as online attacks are repelled, hackers adapt. That’s why complacency is often an organization’s weakest link. Waiting for a breach is not an option; companies must pay attention and prepare for anything. Digital records and mobile devices have introduced convenience and improved productivity, but that success comes with a price. As always the best defense is a good offense. With the advanced protection we provide against ransomware, zero-day threats, and evolving malware, Makios offers small business owners and operators the most comprehensive security platform by leveraging the power of multi-core processing for maximum protection and blazing fast throughput.