Ransomware has quickly become a top risk for businesses of all sizes. Even companies with robust in-house IT departments and security operations centers struggle to keep up with the emergent threats. In this post, we’ll highlight several risks that a successful ransomware attack poses to your business and explain how a reputable managed service provider (MSP) can help you prevent a breach from happening in the first place.
What is ransomware?
Ransomware is just another type of malware that encrypts malicious data onto your company endpoints. Once the data is successfully encrypted on your systems and access to your essential business data is blocked, criminal hackers will then demand a ransom in exchange for restoring your operations back to normal. Cryptocurrency has largely enabled this recent trend in ransomware attacks. The rise of digital assets allows the threat actor to receive funds anonymously, usually on a foreign cryptocurrency exchange, without having to worry about highly regulated international remittance procedures.
If the business decides not to pay the ransom and their information isn’t sufficiently backed up, they permanently lose access to their mission-critical data, the whole of which might even leak publicly online. What makes ransomware attacks so dangerous? If a business gets caught unawares and ends up paying the ransom demand, there’s virtually no assurance that the criminal hackers will unencrypt your business data.
What risks does a ransomware attack pose to your operations?
As you might imagine, denied access to your business information can cause a significant, if not catastrophic disruption to your continuous, normally flowing business operations. Even large companies are susceptible to ransomware attacks which have been known to put these larger enterprises out of commission for weeks. If you provide essential services such as health care, an incident like this could result in dire consequences for the communities you serve.
Aside from rendering your business inoperable, criminal hackers are adept at using ransomware attacks to access your sensitive customer information and industry trade secrets. One primary risk of falling victim to an attack is discovering that your data was exposed online, compromising both your customer’s security and your hard-earned brand reputation. If you operate a well-regulated business, data breaches like this could result in significant fines because you failed to secure your customer’s confidential information.
Moreover, once the first leak occurs, this sends the message to other hackers that your systems are less than secure, setting you up for another potentially devastating barrage of offensives you simply can’t ward off.
How do ransomware attacks start?
Ransomware attacks are distinct from other cybersecurity incidents insofar as they’re mostly attributable to human error. Criminal hackers typically begin the process by deploying a series of phishing emails sophisticated enough to bypass the average business email spam filter. Phishing emails account for a major risk factor at your workplace, particularly for those organizations that lack a suitable information security training program. Employees who don’t understand the risk of clicking an unsolicited link or opening a suspicious attachment are more likely to download malware and infect your broader systems.
In addition to this, Automated Ransomware as a Service (RaaS) hacking tools have become increasingly popular. An entire black market industry has developed itself up around organized criminal hacking, and the providers of these services are even willing to guide and advise threat actors in exchange for a fraction of the ransom payment. Automated ransomware programs scan the internet for unsecured networks before launching a strong-armed attack to gain password access and continue installing malware on the open connection.
Ransomware as a Service (RaaS) hacking tools are especially threatening to small businesses that haven’t taken the appropriate steps to protect their networks. Criminals needn’t waste time researching and targeting companies because the software automatically detects vulnerabilities before routing the attackers directly to the most susceptible businesses.
How Managed IT services detect and prevent ransomware attacks
Since no one solution for combating the problem exists, ransomware prevention and detection require a multi-layered approach. Here are just a few ways PCH Technologies protects our clients’ vital information from cybercriminals:
Machine learning detection and network monitoring
No matter how many steps you take to protect your organization from a ransomware attack, you should expect to remain one step behind the most advanced cybercriminals. Thousands of new risks emerge every week. Without consistent network monitoring, these new and unknown threats stand a good chance of infiltrating your networks and spreading virally like a bad disease.
Managed service providers give you a proactive solution for continually meeting these new threats head-on. Select managed IT support services can provide ransomware protection based on machine learning to help you fight off automated cyberattacks. Every piece of ransomware is unique, but the methodologies for accessing your sensitive information are generally the same.
AI-driven tools from PCH Technologies will help you detect and block new ransomware threats while flagging any suspicious behavior observed across your network. Once an anomaly or specific threat is identified, we’ll deploy a team of cybersecurity professionals to investigate the situation and start taking steps to mitigate the problem before it escalates and spreads to your other systems.
If you’re unfamiliar with an application whitelist, as you might suspect, it’s the inverse of an application blacklist that blocks specific software from running on your company endpoints. Software blacklists have been around for some time now. But they’re ineffective solutions because you must be aware of the malicious software before adding the program to a blacklist.
Whitelisting makes more logical sense because it works in reverse. MSPs can provide you with the requisite tools to hand-select the applications you need to perform your essential business functions while excluding all others by default. This considerably reduces the odds of an employee unsuspectingly downloading a piece of ransomware.
Ransomware protection software
Finally, MSPs have access to the latest ransomware protection software. These programs compare software on your devices to a list of both common and emergent threats. Advanced ransomware protection solutions are largely cloud-based and account for some of the most effective tools for detecting and blocking ransomware attacks. The software syncs a list of known ransomware threats several times throughout the day, protecting you against the most recently identified attacks.
Managing ransomware and other cybersecurity risks
We hope this article gave you a bit more background on how ransomware attacks work, the various risks they pose, and how to prevent them. If you think your business is susceptible to a ransomware attack, and you’re unaware of your current system vulnerabilities, you should reach out to a dedicated cybersecurity specialist at PCH Technologies today. Book your free discovery call online now, or dial us directly at (856) 754-7500.