The holiday season gives you and your employees the chance to rest, recharge, and spend time with family. Unfortunately, it also provides an opportunity for cyber criminals to strike when you’re most vulnerable. Understanding how ransomware works and what you can do to prevent an attack is critical all year, but especially during and after the holidays. Keep reading to learn about the effects of ransomware attacks, when you’re most at risk, and what you can do to prepare your business.
Ransomware is a type of malicious software that blocks access to your files or network. Attackers demand a ransom payment in return for a decryption key, access to your network, or file restoration.
During a ransomware attack, attackers gain access using phishing emails, social engineering, malicious websites, or vulnerabilities in your cybersecurity infrastructure. Depending on the type of ransomware, your company can lose access to critical files, or users may get locked out of your network entirely. In some cases, attackers steal data and threaten to leak it if the ransom isn’t paid.
Ransomware can be catastrophic for your business. Here’s what you may experience during and after an attack:
You may temporarily or permanently lose access to data during a ransomware attack. Attackers may delete files permanently if the ransom isn’t paid in time, but paying the ransom also isn’t a guarantee that your files will be restored.
If you choose to pay the ransom in return for your files, you may lose hundreds of thousands of dollars or more, depending on the attacker’s demands.
It can take anywhere from hours to weeks to recover data after a ransomware attack. Your employees can’t work during the downtime, which translates to lost profits.
Once word gets out that your organization suffered a ransomware attack, you may lose clients who don’t trust you to safeguard their data. The downtime after an attack may also prevent you from fulfilling contracts or providing work, negatively impacting your client relationships.
The financial ramifications of a ransomware attack go beyond ransom payments and lost profits. If you fail to take required measures to prevent a cyberattack, you could face fines for violating compliance regulations like the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). A client could also sue for damages if their data was leaked in the attack.
Ransomware is always a threat to businesses, but you should be on higher alert when your office is closed. There has been an increase in attacks on weekends and holidays according to the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), which is when you’re less likely to notice a threat to your network. The extended holiday closures in December and early January can make your business even more vulnerable.
While the office may be closed, you can still implement proactive measures to protect your network while your team is away.
Before you set your out-of-office message, shut down your computer, and start the winter vacation, follow these tips to prevent ransomware attacks this holiday season:
If your organization experiences a ransomware attack over the holiday season, an offline data backup can help you recover lost files and minimize downtime.
Employees who click the wrong link or visit an illegitimate website can kick off a ransomware attack. Make sure your employees have up-to-date cybersecurity training and understand the risks of ransomware.
To protect against vulnerabilities, your organization should regularly patch software and update its operating system to ensure the latest security controls.
Employees who use predictable passwords or the same passwords across different sites and systems may expose your business to a security breach. Require users to create strong, unique passwords and update them regularly.
If you only require one authentication source, an attacker can access your network by stealing a user’s password. With multi-factor authentication, users must provide additional proof of identification, such as clicking a push notification or using a security key.
Time is of the essence during a ransomware attack. With a thorough incident response plan, you can respond to threats swiftly and prevent further damage.
Some security programs automatically block users from accessing suspicious websites. You can also implement software that prevents users from downloading unauthorized programs. These tools prevent employees from unknowingly exposing your data to ransomware.
Use antivirus software that can automatically block ransomware and scan emails and external files for threats. That way, malicious links and files are flagged before employees click on them.
From password management and multi-factor authentication to disaster recovery and email security, Team Burkhart’s managed security services keep you ahead of threats.
Staying one step ahead of security threats can feel impossible, especially when you’re also dealing with end-of-the-year chaos. Team Burkhart handles security so you can log off for a much-needed holiday knowing you’re prepared for a ransomware attack.
Whether your internal IT team needs extra help or you’re looking for a fully managed IT partner, Team Burkhart can provide the support you need this holiday season—and throughout the year. Contact us today to learn how our team can help your business.