Methods to Help Prevent Ransomware from Crippling Your Business

Updated on April 28, 2017

At this very moment and every 22 seconds that follow, someone is clicking a spam email in a malicious document. In these few seconds, a permanent impact can be made on your organization as data can be encrypted, and the only key to unlock these files can have a significant financial cost. Cybercriminals involved in what is now defined as the malware economy have arranged their attacks to target all companies in every industry using an increasingly powerful weapon – ransomware.

What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a highly-sophisticated type of malicious software that infects a computer and blocks a victim’s access to his/her files until a “ransom” is paid. When an attack occurs, typically an on-screen alert will appear stating that the user’s system has been compromised and data will not be restored until the company pays the cybercriminal’s price. Differing from other forms of malware, ransomware features an unbreakable encryption, meaning it is nearly impossible to reverse-engineer the code without the original encryption key (only accessible by the criminal). Additionally, it can allow the virus to spread to other computers and servers, creating further risk and damage.

Ransomware’s Impact on Your Company

Ransomware is used to obstruct operations in an effort to extort large sums of money. Confidential system data is becoming increasingly vulnerable, and for a healthcare organization, it can threaten patient records and lives. Financial demands vary greatly – ranging from $200 to $17,000 dollars – and must be paid in virtual currency, such as Bitcoin. While this isn’t a new phenomenon, it’s presence throughout the healthcare industry is more prevalent than ever with no sign of slowing down. In fact, according to a recent study, ransomware attacks on healthcare institutions will increase four-fold by 2020, ultimately driving healthcare organizations to spend more-and-more money on cybersecurity.

Cybercriminals also target more than healthcare systems. Every company – from Fortune 100 global financial services corporations to a 10-person local law firm – is a potential victim and precautions should be taken.

These include comprehensive strategies from third-party experts, such as Pinnacle Consulting Group and its family of technology companies. Pinnacle provides simple and smart IT solutions that help protect IT environments from cyber attacks.

Prevention Tools

Ransomware infections can be devastating and recovery – from an internal and external perspective – can be very difficult. Because cybercriminals constantly up the ante with new virus infections, companies should partner with experts who stay current on the latest threats. Consultants, such as Pinnacle, have dedicated teams to help protect data. Here are three tips to encourage prevention:

  • Update all operating systems to ensure software is up-to-date, including plugins and security updates (vulnerable applications and operating systems are the target of most attacks).
  • Make sure that all company files are backed up securely in a remote, virtual data center.
  • Train employees to ensure their understanding of the potential risks and what to look out for. Remind them of precautions that must be taken to avoid exposing the company to vulnerabilities, such as never opening spam emails or emails from unknown senders.

In support of the above recommended tips, Pinnacle offers many services to help safeguard sensitive information such as:

1.) Vulnerability Assessments

2.) Managed Services

3.) Employee Training and Staff Augmentation

  • Vulnerability Assessments: Ransomware may remain dormant on a system until the computer is at its most vulnerable state. From here, it can strike quickly and effectively. Through an in-depth evaluation of your overall information security plan, our team will crawl through your system to evaluate and find the weak areas on your network. Pending these findings, strategies are then developed to create and implement an integrated mitigation strategy to protect all system data.
  • Managed Services: Cyber criminals never sleep. As a managed services provider, Pinnacle’s goal is to discover and eliminate existing and potential issues before they occur. You should select a managed services provider that is equipped to elevate your company’s current technology and support levels. Ask your potential partner if they use state-of-the-art tools to provide real-time account information, asset inventory, and system performance reports and dashboards.
  • Training Services and Staffing Augmentation: Keeping pace with new viruses is no easy task. To prepare and educate a workforce, regular training from experts, such as those at Pinnacle, is one line of defense companies need to invest in. Having the proper personnel is equally important. That is why Pinnacle offers staffing augmentation that includes a robust vetting process to help build a high-qualified team.

Have an IT question unrelated to ransomware? Pinnacle is available. Whether it’s integrated business applications, international network infrastructure support, or simple desktop support, Pinnacle’s experts are trained across a variety of services.

For more information on cyber security and ransomware, call Pinnacle Consulting Group at 973-890-1111 or visit Pinnacle Smart. To learn more about our educational courses and services, visit Pinnacle Center for Professional Development.