Just days prior to Christmas, an Arkansas Telemarketing company suspended business operations and closed their doors. The 61-year old company was hit with ransomware in October, and the company elected to pay the ransom to get their systems back online. Even after paying the ransom to get the key to retrieve their data, the company's IT department has been unable to resolve the issues. In a letter posted online by KATV in Arkansas to company employees, the owner indicates that accounting systems were not working and they were unable to process funds, and their mail center couldn't operate and they could not bill customers, two months after the attack.
There are stories all the time of large companies experiencing data breaches and ransomware. The lesson here is that this mid-size business of 300 employees suffered a ransomware attack, paid the ransom to the hackers and could still not recover operations to be able to remain viable. The FBI warns businesses that paying the ransom for these attacks offers no guarantees that they will be able to recover their data, but often times businesses are most concerned with getting back to business. In an April 2019 study, Appriver reports that 55% of all executives in the SMB sector said they would pay the ransom to recover their data in an attack. That number jumps to 74% when dealing with large SMBs, with 39% stating they would pay "almost any price" to get their data recovered.
Many SMBs feel overwhelmed by the security risks of ransomware. They constantly hear about the effects a ransomware attack could have on their company, but with limited IT budgets and resources, they are unsure how to protect their data from attack. With a Managed IT Services Provider, SMBs can implement several safeguards to keep their business safe and help mitigate a ransomware attack. Here are some tips to consider:
- Put a plan in place to deal with a cyber attack. Your business likely has a plan in place for a fire or flood. Do you have the same for a cyber attack? Have a documented plan for how your business will operate if you fall victim to ransomware. Your plan should include a secure data backup plan that involves off-device backups. With the guidance of your Managed IT Services Provider, you can decide what type of plan will work best for your company. Also know how your business will continue to operate in the event of an attack. Keep a playbook of the steps that need to be taken to get back to business. Finally, know what your insurance policy will cover - a cyber attack is a business interruption, and your insurance may be able to help you offset the financial costs
- Network monitoring on a regular basis. A Managed IT Services Provider can set up an ongoing network monitoring program that will work to keep your data safe. Network monitoring takes a preventative approach, where instead of waiting for a problem to happen, continuous monitoring allows for your IT provider to address issues before they become a problem. When your provider sees an anomaly, they can be alerted to it quickly and work to recognize if a ransomware attack has taken place and get your business back to operations.
- ALWAYS keep your security patches updated. 20 years ago when you got new software, it came on a disk or with a CD-ROM. Today, most software is done on a service model, and you download the software and updates online. Because of this, software companies are constantly making changes and updates to their software to have it perform at its maximum potential. Some of these changes are security upgrades, when a company realizes a security vulnerability in their programs. It is imperative that all security patches and upgrades be implemented in a timely manner so that your data can remain protected. There are security patch deployment programs that can help you deploy patches on a regular basis, and with a Managed IT Services Provider, this type of maintenance can be built into your ongoing services.
- Keep employees aware of cyber attacks. Your employees are your best defense or your weakest point in regard to your data and systems. It is key to your security efforts that employees are trained on how to spot potential phishing or ransomware attempts. Based on your industry, there are other employee training programs that can keep your staff up-to-date on regulatory and compliance issues for your organization. The important part is that your employees know how to spot potential threats and how to report those threats to your Managed IT Services Provider or your internal IT department for investigation.
Reports of ransomware are everywhere today, and the effects it can have on a business can be catastrophic. There are ways that you can protect your business from these attacks. Through a Managed IT Serviced Provider, you can ensure that your data is safe from attack, and should an attack occur, that you will be able to work quickly to get back to business. If your business has fallen victim to a ransomware attack, do not hesitate to contact us.