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5 Ways to Protect Your Business from a Ransomware Attack

What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a type of malicious software that threatens to permanently block access to your computer files unless a ransom is paid. It will block access to Microsoft Office files, Adobe files, pictures, and videos on your computer and your network shares. Ransoms can be anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousands of dollars.

Ransomware has been around since the late 1980s, but in recent years, attacks against businesses have drastically increased. In the second half of 2018, Ransomware attacks against businesses have increased by 88%, and its effects can be detrimental to business operations. Recent studies have told us that:

  • Among American businesses with less than 1,000 employees, 22% had to stop operations due to a ransomware attack
  • 15% of those companies lost revenue
  • On average, businesses lost over $100,000 in downtime per incident
  • 1 in 6 of those companies lost at least 25 hours of downtime

Here are 5 ways you can protect your business from a Ransomware attack:

  1. Anti-virus Protection. Consider purchasing software that not only provides anti-virus protection, but also offers a package that bundles several security products together and provides web filtering and malware protection.
  2. Keep your systems patched or updated. Ransomware often relies on unpatched vulnerabilities to gain unauthorized access to your system. By keeping the software across your network up-to-date, exploit-based ransomware attacks can’t hurt you. Keep operating systems up-to-date, too. Windows 7 is nearing the end of its lifespan, when it does Microsoft will not be providing security updates for this operating system, so if you haven’t already moved to Windows 10, you need to before the end of 2019.
  3. Make sure your everyday account is set up with standard user privileges. Instead of admin privileges, always login to your computer with an account that has standard user privileges because this will limit the impact a virus or malware can have on your computer.
  4. Make regular backups of your critical files and save them offline. If you have a good backup, remediating a ransomware attack is as simple as reimaging the infected computer. You should test this process at least once a year to make sure it is functioning properly. You should also scan your backups to ensure they haven’t been infected because some ransomware is designed to look for network backups. Accordingly, you’d do well to store data backups offline.
  5. Stay informed about information security. I always say that education is the most important step in fighting cyber criminals and provides the most significant return towards maturing your cybersecurity maturity level.

At C&N, we recognize the impact an attack could have on our local small businesses and what that could mean for our communities. So, we’ve made it a priority to develop easy-to-use resources for local entrepreneurs and business owners. By leveraging your bank, you can put yourself and your business in a better position to prevent against these attacks.

What should I do if I fall victim to a ransomware attack?

The answer depends on whether you have your information backed up using a reliable source.

  • If you do have a good backup, you can use that to restore your computers. You should then try to determine how it was infected and take steps to improve your security posture.
  • If you do not have a backup, you should make a backup of the infected computer and call a computer security specialist. They can guide you through the necessary steps to try and recover your files. You can then implement the changes the security specialist recommends for improving your cybersecurity defense practices.

Whether you have a backup or not, you should never pay the ransom. The best way to lessen Ransomware losses is to make sure the computers that are critical to running your business are being backed up daily and test those backups monthly.

As a small business owner, it is extremely important to make sure you are taking steps to protect your information and the information of your customers. By keeping regular backups of your computer systems and making sure you and your staff are educated on Ransomware and other online attacks, you will greatly reduce your business’ risk of potential losses from cyber criminals.

Video courtesy of The Wellsboro Home Page

Pete Boergermann
VP / Director of Information Security
(570) 724-0292

Pete Boergermann joined C&N in 1998 and has served as VP Information Technology Manager/Information Security Officer since 2006. In his new role as the Director of Information Security, he is responsible for managing the information security program at C&N, while also championing IT security to make it a critical part of C&N’s business operations. 

A United States Air Force Veteran, Pete graduated from the BAI Graduate School of Bank Operations through Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management in 2006 and completed the Pennsylvania Bankers Association’s (PBA) School of Banking in 2009. He earned his credentials as a Certified Information Executive from USC Upstate Campus’s Institute for CIO Excellence in 2016. He also puts his expertise to valuable use as a member of the PBA IT Technology Committee and Chair of the PBA Cyber Sub-committee. 

In his spare time, Pete serves as a School Board Member of New Covent Academy and as an Elder at the Church of the New Covent and volunteers for Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally and the Annual Laurel Classic Mountain Bike Challenge. He lives in Wellsboro with his wife, Cassie, and has 3 daughters, Alyssa, Joy and Mikaela.

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