As a small business owner, you’re already more than familiar with the unique industrial hazards of your line of work, but how protected are you against ransomware threats?
Cyberattacks are undoubtedly on the rise. In 2021 we saw yet another increase in ransomware attacks on small to medium-sized organizations, making cyber protection more important than ever. As the risk of cyberattacks on smaller companies grows, this newly formed and sophisticated threat environment means that safeguarding your critical data and systems from a potentially disastrous ransomware incident is paramount. By taking the right steps now, you can ensure that your business is well-prepared to prevent and respond to ransomware threats in the future.
The rising threat of ransomware attacks against small businesses
The escalating threats posed by ransomware, particularly against smaller companies, remains a significant problem in 2023. If you are unfamiliar with ransomware, it is a type of malicious software that encrypts user data for the purpose of demanding payment (usually in the form of cryptocurrency) to restore system access. Ransomware is especially hazardous to small businesses because these organizations often lack the resources or expertise to respond to the sophisticated nature of this type of attack.
The risks associated with ransomware attacks on small businesses will likely balloon into an even bigger issue as 2024 nears closer. The current research and evidence show that ransomware attacks are becoming more prevalent, making it a top priority for small business owners everywhere. The complex nature of the recent spate of attacks is among the main reasons ransomware poses such a serious and growing threat to smaller companies. As cyber criminals become more experienced and advanced in the latest techniques, they can develop new, more advanced methods of encryption.
Since many small businesses haven’t yet implemented a suitable cyber protection strategy, these organizations have become prime targets for threat actors. Criminal hackers know that many small businesses are unlikely to recover their data without paying up, thus, making these companies more vulnerable to the recent onslaught of highly sophisticated ransomware attacks. The prevalence of ransomware incidents at small businesses will continue spiking this year. This is largely due to the now widespread presence of digital services and tools that companies like yours have come to rely upon for their normal operations. As more companies move to cloud-based services and digital payment systems, the risk of a ransomware incident only increases without the proper security controls and protections in place.
How does ransomware work?
Ransomware presents as a malicious form of software, also known as malware, that infect computers before blocking users from accessing their data until a ransom is paid.
The threat of ransomware has become so much more common in recent years because cybercriminals have adopted sophisticated techniques and tactics to spread malicious code. This can make combating the problem a challenge for the average small business. The way ransomware works is that it typically unfolds in two distinct stages. First, the malware spreads through malicious emails, infected websites, and other questionable sources.
Once the malware installs onto some component of your system, it encrypts all of the user’s data, rendering it inaccessible. The ransomware then displays a message on the user’s screen requesting payment to restore access to the data. After a business owner decides there is no other option but to pay the ransom, cybercriminals will often provide a decryption key, but this is hardly assured. The key allows the user to regain access to their data, but, again, there is no guarantee that the cybercriminals will ever provide any such key. Subsequently, your employees and you should always be wary of ransomware and take steps to protect their data from malicious attackers. This includes being vigilant and avoiding suspicious emails and websites, in addition to regularly backing up data to an external drive or cloud storage.
Common ransomware types include:
How can small businesses safeguard themselves from ransomware attacks?
Small businesses that aim to protect their systems from ransomware must implement reliable antivirus software solutions. Furthermore, the software should be regularly scanned to detect any malicious code or other threats and display the capacity to identify system abnormalities while blocking suspicious network activities. Any data stored on your systems should be routinely backed up to enable the antivirus software’s optional future. Regular patching and updating ensure that, in the event of a successful ransomware attack, the data can be swiftly recovered. It is no less important to effectuate internal security policies that address the dangers of ransomware and review them routinely. These standards and protocols should outline the steps to be taken to protect systems and data from an attack. This includes restricting access to sensitive information and providing training to employees on recognizing and responding to suspicious network activities. In taking these steps, businesses can drastically reduce the odds of falling victim to a successful ransomware attack.
How do managed service providers prevent ransomware attacks?
Managed service providers (MSPs) are among the best resources available to small businesses that lack the resources to protect their digital systems in-house. Our team specializes in managing IT networks and systems for a wide variety of industrial sectors, and we understand how to implement the appropriate cybersecurity measures for your industry.
By leveraging the expertise of an MSP like PCH Technologies, your small businesses can benefit from proactive monitoring, maintenance, and backups that can prevent ransomware from infecting their systems. Getting hit unawares with a ransomware attack can be devastating for any company, no matter what the size. The event frequently leads to data loss and reputational harm if not financial ruin.
To prevent ransomware, managed security service providers offer a multitude of services, including patching and updating systems, setting up firewalls, implementing multi-factor authentication, and conducting regular scans for vulnerabilities, to name just a few. Working with a third-party IT security provider can also help small businesses develop an effective incident response plan in the event of a ransomware attack. This plan should include a detailed series of processes and procedures for responding to a ransomware attack, such as notifying relevant stakeholders, managing communications, and restoring systems. MSPs can also help your small businesses develop an effective disaster recovery strategy to ensure that, even after a successful ransomware attack, you can recover your critical business data quickly and avert expensive disruptions that can prove difficult to recover from.
Start protecting your small business from ransomware now
Safeguarding your business from ransomware might seem daunting for any business that lacks the necessary resources for mitigating a successful attack.
Fortunately, if you’ve been hit with a ransomware attack or simply want to prevent one from occurring in the future, PCH Technologies offers industry-leading protection services designed specifically for smaller companies like yours.
Get ahead of the latest ransomware threats now by contacting PCH Technologies at (856) 754-7500. Or, to schedule a complimentary discovery call, leave us your information online, and a PCH cybersecurity specialist will respond to you promptly.