According to the Ponemon Institute, ransomware attacks increased by 300 percent between 2015 and 2016, and those figures are climbing. Businesses that don’t have a strict cybersecurity policy in place are the most vulnerable.
As of mid-2018, major data breaches and cybersecurity vulnerabilities have made headline news time and time again. But relatively few IT managers really appreciate the size and scope of the threat.
While it is true that most ransomware fees are small – the average stands at about $2500 – the act itself is only a small part of the cybercriminal pattern. Ponemon also finds that one-third of ransomware victims lose customers following an attack, both due to reputation damage and due to downtime.
Additionally, once a cybercriminal victimizes your IT system, your data remains vulnerable long afterwards. Until you construct an audit trail that determines exactly how your network was infiltrated, it’s impossible to predict when the next attack will occur, or how you will prevent it when it does.
This is why it’s important for organizations to invest in managed IT services before having to deal with a cybersecurity emergency. With the right planning and backups in place, you can emerge from a potentially debilitating cyberattack relatively unharmed.
How to Prevent Ransomware Before It Strikes
When it comes to ransomware, prevention is more important than response. Knowing how the clear majority of ransomware operatoes can help your organization resist even a sophisticated cyberattack.
Cybercrime is an entire industry, and business is booming. Cybercriminal entrepreneurs offer ransomware packages as a service, providing brand-new ransomware variants unknown to anti-virus software to any enterprising hacker willing to give up 30 percent of their proceeds.
This ransomware-as-a-service model is dangerous, but it also has key weaknesses:
- Once a ransomware variant appears “in the wild,” anti-virus software catalogs it and updates it to all the software vendor’s users.
- Security updates to operating systems can mitigate ransomware applications and prevent them from running.
- Cybercriminals still need privileged access to your systems to install ransomware. Attacks still begin with email phishing.
This means that if you train company employees to identify and flag suspicious emails, use the latest anti-virus software, and keep all of your business systems up-to-date, you are already ahead of the pack when it comes to cybersecurity.
But office buildings are dynamic places, and the more sophisticated yours is, the more challenging it is to ensure that your systems have world-class protection. For instance, although workstation desktops may be password-protected and even have encrypted hard drives, how vulnerable is your office print fleet?
This is an effective first-step tactic for preventing ransomware attacks. But you also need a reliable backup system in place.
Traditional backup systems tend to fail in the face of ransomware attacks because today’s ransomware applications know how to access backup archives and encrypt them. Only an independent managed service provider has the tools and infrastructure possible to deploy a backup solution that is both removed from your general network and capable of handling a high-bandwidth network restore operation on-demand.
This is where managed IT services provide market-leading value. By offloading your network needs to a single vendor, you guarantee a unified network infrastructure that benefits from the best possible cybersecurity defenses.
Managed Service Providers Offer Proactive Threat Management
There is one key weakness in orienting your cybercrime strategy around anti-virus software. These applications work by monitoring for the known activity signatures of various viruses, ransomware, and malware programs. They cannot respond to a novel cybersecurity situation because they have no background to go on.
This is where proactive security and threat detection comes into play. These terms describe IT services that look at how specific network behaviors correlate with cybercriminal intent. It gives cybersecurity professionals a way to identify new ransomware strains before they attack.
Managed service providers are in a particularly advantageous position when it comes to active threat detection. The ability to look at larger amounts of data to determine overall patterns helps identify when any suspicious activity occurs, such as:
- Email attachments that search for or target several files across a system very quickly
- Unexpected encryptions taking place rapidly throughout the network
- Unusual bandwidth activity pointing to external requests for data
Any of these situations could point to an ongoing cyberattack. Your managed service provider can flag the executables responsible for this suspicious behaviors and quarantine them until a member of the IT team verifies them.
This first-step tactic can stop most ransomware attacks from compromising more than a few non-critical systems. That can make all the difference in the overall security that managed IT services offers.
It’s time for your business to prepare for ransomware by putting a robust cybersecurity system in place. Talk to our experts to learn more.