Ransomware Can Stop Your Business In It's Tracks

Small business owners are overworked and have a lot on their minds. They have to open and close their business, manage employees, purchase inventory, cover payroll and the list goes on and on. The last thing a business wants to worry about is their computer security. So quite often, cyber security is left on the back burner of the mind.  Until the inevitable happens, the company gets hacked. A successful hack will bring your lax security to the front of your mind quicker than anything. You will be left wondering what information was compromised, for how long and who now has access to your network. Ultimately, you are usually left with more questions than answers. The most important thing you should focus on is how to make sure this doesn't happen again. Ransomware is a totally different story and sits in a world all it's own.

In many cases, there is no recovering from a Ransomware attack. Unless you have a separate backup, your data is likely gone for good. Imagine losing ALL of the business data since your company started? This is a reality in today's digital world and business owners make it easier than ever by not properly securing their network.

Breakdown of A Ransomware Attack

A Ransomware attack usually starts with a user running a malicious file. This file could come from a rogue USB, an emailed attachment or through a phishing attack. Once the file is run, it begins to work in the background secretly searching for and encrypting your personal and business data. Once this encryption process is complete, you are in a world of hurt. The attack then makes itself evident with a brightly colored splash screen and message from the hacker who now holds your data for ransom. The message states that hackers have encrypted your data, if you wish to get your files back you must pay the ransom and for an price (usually around $1,000) you can have access to your files again. The hackers don't want you to abandon all hope, but would prefer you to consider this a manageable amount and pay the ransom. Unfortunately, even if you pay the ransom you might never get your files back. A study by Kaspersky showed that even after paying the ransom, 1 in 5 small to medium sized businesses never regained access to their files.

Fortunately there are some steps you can take to prevent the impact of a Ransomware attack.

Backup Your Data.

This can't be emphasized strongly enough. If you have a backup copy saved off-site (such as online backup) you don't have to worry about Ransomware controlling your files. You can simply reformat, recover from backup and move on with your day.

Use Anti-Virus Software.

Anti-virus will prevent the malware from infecting your computer in the first place. Even if the ransomware does happen to get past the first line of defense, some anti-virus solutions (including the PC built-in Windows Defender) offer protections specifically against ransomware. These solutions monitor files and folders looking for unauthorized access or alterations. They can hinder the impact of the ransomware and alert you to take further action while preventing further damage.

Keep Your Operating System Up To Date

Ransomware can spread through your network very quickly by using ports and services built into your operating system. Once a potential malware is detected, Microsoft or Apple will usually release patches to their operating system protecting against those malicious files. But it's up to you to enable the updates and allow them to be installed on your computer. Keeping your computer up to date is one of the best line of defenses, not only against ransomware, but against malware and hacking attempts in general.

Be Aware of Phishing Techniques

Keep an eye out for suspicious emails, especially those with attachments or links. Don't click on links where you don't fully trust the sender and never open attachments from anyone that you don't know. Some recent phishing emails have even been coming from people that you have emailed before. Attempting to capitalize on a recent email thread in order to trick you into opening an attachment. Hackers are sneaky and you must be super vigilant in order to fight back.

The average business owner or IT technician is not properly equipped to deal with these specific threats. Hack Proof Secure IT can properly assess your company infrastructure and determine if you are at risk to Ransomware. We can then help you mitigate those risks and give you the peace of mind knowing that even if you do get attacked your business is safe. Statistics say that more than half of small businesses fold within 6 months of a cyber security attack. These attacks are real and have real consequences. Contact us today for a FREE basic security assessment and start taking your business security seriously. Don’t wait until it’s too late, because sometimes there is no coming back after you’ve been hacked.


Your Wifi Is Hurting Your Business

Business owners have a tough problem to face. More customers are becoming accustomed to having free wifi access in your establishments and you are challenged with giving wireless access while still protecting your internal network. If you’re a smart business owner this should give you some pause. Giving out the wireless password not only makes you responsible for all traffic that your customers might do while connected but it also gives access to the same network that your business devices reside on. If you have internet connected cash registers, VoIP phones, or security cameras you have given any wireless user access to those devices as well. This one action could end up being very bad for you and your business.

Now let's say you were a smart business owner and didn’t just start giving out the wireless password to anyone that asked. You engaged some networking vendors who sold you a device that would help you to administer a wireless network more securely (Meraki anybody?). Armed with this new hardware that you paid thousands of dollars for, you have a warm lovely feeling of security in your business. Unfortunately, a feeling of security does not equal actual security. Hackers are very aware of the hardware measures used by small businesses to try and secure the network. And simply having a device to protect your network, does not mean your network is protected.

Hackers can employ a wide variety of techniques to gain access or cause havoc to your business. From VLAN hopping attacks to handshake cracking to Denial of Service attacks, given enough time a dedicated individual can find a way in. On the defensive side, your business has to find and mitigate 100% of the potential vulnerabilities to be secure but the hacker only has to find one way to get inside your network. From there, it’s open season on your business and all devices connected. Data, such as credit card information, can be stolen to later be sold on the black market. Bank account information can be used to steal your hard earned money. Or malware can be installed that can hold your computers for ransom until you pay money for the hackers to release it. All this because you gave out your wifi password and didn’t properly secure your network.

The average business owner or IT technician is not properly equipped to deal with these hacking threats. The “Pros” may say you are secure, but how do you really know? This is where Hack Proof Secure IT can help your business. We take a look at your network from the hackers point of view. We find and exploit vulnerabilities in your network and locate every single way a hacker could get into your systems. Then we can take all this information to close the holes in your network and make you secure once again. Statistics say that more than half of small businesses fold within 6 months of a cyber security attack. These attacks are real and have real consequences. Contact us today for a FREE basic security assessment and start taking your business security seriously. Don’t wait until it’s too late, because sometimes there is no coming back after you’ve been hacked.