Ransomware Survival Checklist:

Critical Cybersecurity Layers Every Business Should Have In Place NOW To Survive A Ransomware Attack

 

Worried your business will be the next victim of a ransomware attack infecting your IT network, giving cybercriminals access to your data and the ability to encrypt your files, but don’t know what steps to take to protect your data? Cybercrime has been on the rise - especially with the pandemic - and there has been an absolute tsunami of recent ransomware attacks targeting small and mid-sized businesses just like yours.

We want to help, so we put together a Ransomware Survival Checklist to help you set up a safer more ransomware resilient business continuity solution BEFORE disaster strikes:

 

Layered Cybersecurity. This is the most important thing to do when trying to reduce your risk of a ransomware attack. A “layered approach” to cybersecurity means you are using multiple security solutions (i.e. 24/7 security monitoring, on-going employee security training, managed firewalls, managed WiFi, A-I based filtering software, ringfencing, application whitelisting, 2FA, password management, SASE-enabled remote access, anti-malware, and anti-virus software) to protect your organization’s IT network. If one fails, your backup security tools are there to kick in. Here are some protections every business MUST have in place:

Strong Email Filtering With Advanced Threat Protection. A common way hackers deploy ransomware is through malicious links in phishing and spearfishing emails. Utilizing strong AI-based spam filters will help you identify and reduce the risk of an unsuspecting employee accidentally clicking on one of these links, or completing an unauthorized monetary transaction, unleashing chaos. 

Multifactor Authentication AND Strong Passwords Required. Multifactor authentication adds more steps to the sign-in process. Examples include fingerprint recognition, or a code being sent to the user either through email or text. Even if a hacker were to identify an employee’s password, this added barrier keeps the hackers out. Along with multifactor authentication, requiring your employees to use strong passwords (and change them frequently) is a simple yet effective way to keep cybercriminals at bay. When creating a strong password, use a good mixture of letters, numbers, and special characters, and NEVER reuse passwords. Instead of storing your passwords on your browser, we recommend using a more secure password manager, like LastPass, to remember and protect your passwords.

Related: Passwords: You’re Doing It Wrong

Up-To-Date Software Patches And Frequent Security Audits. It is important to update ALL the apps and software your company uses frequently. These updates are issued by the software providers and usually include security patches, keeping your IT network safer, and allowing your apps and programs to continuing running optimally. If your current IT provider is not proactive in providing the latest security updates and running frequent security audits, you should as then why.

Employee Security Awareness Training.  Even with layered cybersecurity and strong spam filters, the savviest of cyber criminals may still be able to breach your company’s defenses. It is imperative to put your employees through ongoing awareness training, to stay up to speed on the latest cyber-threats and how to spot them.

24/7 Live Threat Monitoring. Cybercrime doesn’t sleep, and every 11 seconds a company is getting hit with ransomware. That is why your Managed Security Services Provider should be monitoring all events on your entire network day and night with a SIM software agent, to identify and mitigate cyber threats in real-time. A simple firewall is no longer enough to detect and prevent intrusion.

Secure Remote Access (SASE). Remote access has come a long way from the year 2020 when we were forced to work from home on sketchy remote access connections that provided no security. With the massive demand for safer remote access solutions, most Managed Security Service Providers are now offering SASE (Secure Access Service Edge) enabled remote access solutions that take a zero-trust approach to keep your network safe, filling in the critical gaps that would otherwise be left exposed with a basic VPN. Discover What Every Business Owner Must Know About Remote Access Security. 

Managed WiFi. Do you know when the last time you changed your WiFi password was? Most business owners we talk to have never changed their WiFi password since the day it was set up and have also not configured their router properly for better security. Proactively manage your WiFi by changing your WiFi password at least every 6 months and ask your IT consultant to check the security configurations on your router.

IoT Device Isolation. A popular way for cybercriminals to gain access to a network is through unsecured IoT devices (internet-enabled devices). All internet-capable “smart” devices must be isolated from your company’s main network and placed on a secure guest Wifi with internet access only. These devices include smart speakers, thermometers, thermostats, lighting, security cameras, etc. One North American casino was recently breached through the thermometer in their fishing tank!

Mobile Device Management. If you have given or plan to give your employees the ability to access company data and systems with mobile devices, you’ll want to make sure to implement a Mobile Device Policy, require STRONG passwords and passcodes to lock mobile devices, require all mobile devices to be encrypted, implement remote wipe software for lost or stolen devices, backup remote devices, keep your security software up-to-date, and prohibit employees to download unauthorized software or files.

Persistent Zero-Trust Threat Detection and Removal. If something malicious makes it past your first few layers of cyber-defense, you can’t rely on your anti-virus alone to protect your data. Zero-trust security agents such as behavioral analysis, application control, and ringfencing can be the difference between falling victim to ransomware and avoiding it all together. These tools take the opposite approach to security than an anti-virus does, instead of looking for KNOWN threats, they are intelligently designed to identify and stop UNKNOWN threats (or any suspicious behavior at all). Anything on the network that has not previously been approved will simply not be allowed.

Security Awareness Training for Employees. Humans are the number one threat to ANY business. You can have all the security layers you want, but if you aren’t providing your employees with the training they need to identify and avoid cyber threats like phishing and social engineering, you are still low-hanging fruit for cyber-attacks. Implementing an ongoing security awareness training program to raise your organization’s cyber-I.Q. is the simplest and most cost-effective way to significantly lower your risk of a data breach.

Redundant On-Site and Cloud-Based Backup Solution. Even with top-notch, layered cybersecurity tools in place, your system can still manage to get compromised. In the case of a successful ransomware attack, you can avoid any serious downtime AND paying the ransom if (and only if) your company’s data is backed up properly, ready to be recovered quickly. A hybrid backup solution that keeps a local image of your server while simultaneously backing your data up in the cloud allows for complete uptime and drastically improves your resilience to disasters and eliminates the risk of using only one backup location. Click here to learn more about our Data Backup and Recovery solution by Datto. 

 

“You can't be 100% protected from data breaches by hackers, you just can't. But you can have a great defense and you CAN recover”. - Neal Juern

 

Truth is, your business can never be completely protected from cyber-attacks because new, or previously unknown, vulnerabilities and exposures are being discovered daily, leaving cybersecurity professionals unable to keep up. However, you can absolutely SURVIVE a ransomware attack by having a comprehensive business continuity plan in place. Fighting ransomware includes prevention AND recovery; your business is not truly safeguarded unless you have both.

 

Some Startling 2021 Ransomware Stats:

  • 37% of ALL businesses (regardless of size) have already been hit by ransomware in 2021.
  • 32% of the 37% hit paid the ransom with only about 60% of paying victims getting their data back.
  • A company is hit by ransomware EVERY 11 SECONDS.
  • Ransomware has cost businesses 20 BILLION dollars so far this year.
  • On average, it costs most businesses around 2 million dollars to recover from a ransomware attack.

 

The fact of the matter is data breaches due to ransomware, malware, viruses, and hackers do happen to thousands of companies every single year – NO MATTER THE SIZE OF THE COMPANY! These breaches are not 100% preventable considering the number of cyber-threats being released every single day but, when you implement the above protections to help prevent ransomware along with a strong ransomware attack survival plan, you can block most breaches and completely recover in the unfortunate case a hacker does manage to get through.

Need help implementing these essential ransomware protections? If you’re concerned about falling victim to ransomware, then call us about how we can implement robust security layers and recovery solutions for your business. If you are an Austin or San Antonio business owner with 30 or more computers, we would like to offer you a FREE, no-obligation Cybersecurity Risk Assessment that will give you the answers you want and the certainty you NEED. After this assessment, you will be truly confident your business can not only survive but thrive after a ransomware attack along with other data erasing disasters. Remember, it's not IF it will happen, it's WHEN. To request a Free, no-obligation Cybersecurity Risk Assessment, call us at (210) 245-6900 or go online to https://www.juerntech.com/cyberaudit/.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]