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Ransomeware Guide

Ransomware has become an epidemic in today’s IT world. It has locked down hospitals, universities, small businesses and individuals all over the world. Ransomware is malware that infects your computer by locking access to your files until you pay a ransom – usually in Bitcoin. The malware usually gets on your computer by a malicious email or website.  Hackers can also deliver it straight to your computer if it’s already been compromised. Ransomware is replacing credit card theft as the number one scam for cyber criminals. Antivirus software alone is not enough to protect you from this threat. 

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ACT recommends multiple layers of protection to help protect our clients against the latest risks. Here are 9 Best practices to protect against ransomware:

  • Backups

    • If done correctly backups are the only guaranteed defense against ransomware. This goes beyond a periodic copy of your data.  Best practices include snapshot image based backups that are done multiple times per day and kept securely both onsite and offsite.
  • Antivirus/Anti-malware Software

    • This is technology 101. Everyone needs to be running antivirus software on all their appliances…yes I said all. Desktops, Laptops, iPhones, Androids, Macs, etc.  Nothing is off limits nowadays.
  • Firewall with UTM

    • In the old day’s firewalls were the doors that kept the bad guys out. The problem is with end users clicking on malicious emails and websites, they are opening the door and inviting them in.   Many firewalls today contain unified thread management features (UTM) that gives a suite of protection against the threats out there.  
  • Operating System Security Updates/Service Packs

    • When was the last time your servers or workstations were updated? Microsoft is regularly releasing updates, patches, and security fixes to keep their operating systems up to date against vulnerabilities.
  • Email Security Software

    • If you find yourself weeding through dozens of junk emails on a daily basis, then it’s time upgrade what you are using for email security. Cloud based email security systems can stop threats before they ever make it to your company’s mail server.  Spam, Viruses, and malicious URLs are some of the easiest ways for ransomware to infect users.
  • Domain Name System (DNS) Intelligence

    • DNS is the starting point for internet connectivity across all devices. Providers are now using DNS to secure networks in ways beyond the standard security products out there.  This gives clients another layer of security across all platforms in their organization by protecting them from malware, botnets, phishing as well as others.    
  • Security Policies

    • One quick easy way to help reduce the risk of ransomware on your network is to limit employees access to the network. There are a number of ways to limit employee access – removing permissions to select files and folders, locking down desktops, removing administrator roles for standard users, are just to name a few.  Keep in mind that malware can only access what the infected employee has access to.  Limiting employee access limits threats. 
  • Education

    • Employees are the front line to most businesses. Any email they open, attachment they click, or website they browser could be compromising the business.  Many ransonware attacks can be prevented through employee education and training.  This can be as simple as creating handouts that can be giving out to employees periodically or maybe the occasionally lunch and learn.  Remember, know before you click!
  • Did I mention Backups Backups Backups

    • Backups are so important that is made the list twice. The only way to truly know if your backups are working is to run a periodic test.  Don’t wait until your network is compromised to see if your backup is working.  
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