Ransomware attacks hit the headlines every week. Whether it is businesses, charities or governments that are targeted, nobody is safe from cyber criminals. However, even those stories only make the news because they are big and well-known. There are plenty more ransomware attacks on smaller businesses that are not reported or published. Obviously, the bigger the company, the more lucrative it is for a hacker, but that doesn’t mean they don’t go after the smaller companies too. Neuways are here for all businesses, big and small, to help you understand what a ransomware attack is and how to prevent and defend your businesses from becoming victims.

What is ransomware?

Ransomware can be defined in a few short sentences. Ransomware is the objective of holding the victim’s data for ransom, this is achieved by hacking into the network and encrypting all the data making it unreadable. Ransomware attackers also exfiltrate data to hold for further ransom with the fear of releasing the data to the public. Once encrypted, the hackers can offer the decryption key in exchange for money. So, they hold a business for ransom over getting their private data back. It could be home addresses, email addresses, names, phone numbers, or even credit card details. Depending on the niche and victim, the information can be extremely valuable to the business. Therefore, cyber criminals can demand what price they want.

Are hackers getting better?

Cyber criminals are becoming more intelligent and innovative in their approach to stealing data. In fact, since the beginning of the pandemic, the market has become incredibly lucrative as more and more organisations have moved online. Ransomware is just one method that cyber criminals use to attack businesses, but if done correctly, it can be the most lucrative.  

Nowadays, a hacker could steal data from a business and threaten to release it into the public eye in order to extort money. For example, this is the standard tactic if data has been stolen from a government authority.  

Preventing a ransomware attack

In the age of ransomware, educating yourself with techniques on detecting ransomware before it infects your computer has become a necessity. To prevent a ransomware attack from affecting your business, you need to be able to identify it. 

Checking email sender addresses

A must-know precaution for detecting ransomware correctly is to carefully check the email addresses of your received emails. Malicious emails are sent by the creators of ransomware through similar-looking email accounts. They use various techniques to make counterfeit emails look similar to legitimate email addresses. For example, attackers replace the small letter ‘L’ with the upper-case letter ‘I.’ These letters resemble one another, which can easily fool potential victims.

Never click on a link until you have confirmed the sender

Sometimes if you are in a rush, then there is the temptation to click on a link when you have received an email. This often happens if a spoofer is impersonating someone of a higher authority in your company. However, if your employee has followed the instructions by Neuways, they would know not to click on any links sent to them without verifying them first. In addition, ransomware creators often employ a malicious link to induce users to unknowingly download ransomware.

Don’t open any attachments that you are not expecting

In 2022, everybody has a phone or is contactable via instant messaging. If someone sends you an attachment, you can always pick up the phone and ask them if they have sent you an extension. If they do not confirm that they sent the email, this should cause alarm bells, and you know not to open it. The consequences would be disastrous for the business. So please ensure your employees remain vigilant.

How can a ransomware attack affect my business?  

A ransomware attack can affect your business in so many ways. As discussed earlier, the hacker who has stolen sensitive data could hold the company to ransom, effectively bankrupting your organisation. In addition, they could release the information of data. This would not only put your company in breach of GDPR but also cause untold damage to your reputation. Your brand would never recover, and you could be known as the company that could not keep its clients’ data secure.

How to teach your employees about ransomware

Neuways have a team full of experts who would happily offer cyber security advice and training to employees of any business. You can contact our team here to discuss Managed Security and Phishing Awareness Training, and other types of cyber security. If your employees are alert to ransomware, they should also be careful of other scams like mandate fraud or gift card fraud. Our Neuways team cover all bases, so you’ll be delighted to hear that you are in safe hands.