Ransomware is a type of malware that has been responsible for billions of dollars in losses for companies and individuals alike over the years. That is why it’s so crucial that you start defending your company from this kind of cybercrime. But before you can become an effective ransomware defender, you need to know how this malware works and the basic steps you can take to prevent it from infiltrating your devices and organization. Here’s what you should know.
What Is Ransomware, and How Does It Work?
Ransomware is a category of malware wherein cybercriminals lock down files on a victim’s computer and then demand a vast sum of money in return for the ability to access them again. Basically, once your files have been compromised, you have to pay a ransom, typically by credit card or cryptocurrency. Once you pay, the cybercriminal will send a decryption key that restores access to your files.
So how does ransomware end up on your computer to begin with? One of the most common ways is through spam email. With this method, you open an email from what appears to be a legitimate source—such as a coworker or your bank—and you either click a link or download an attachment in the email. But it turns out it’s not from a legitimate sender, and the link or attachment is loaded with ransomware that hijacks your files. You’ll know you’re the victim of a ransomware attack when you see a message demanding payment in exchange for access to your files.
Another method of delivering ransomware involves you merely visiting a website that’s been compromised with ransomware. Just going to the site could lead to ransomware being automatically downloaded to your computer. Anyone who uses the internet could potentially end up a victim of this cybersecurity crime, so being aware of the potential risk of ransomware and knowing how it works can help you protect yourself and your business.
How to Defend Yourself and Your Organization from Ransomware
Now that you know how ransomware works, you can learn how to protect yourself from it. According to CISA, a division of the Department of Homeland Security, you should first ensure that you are working with the latest versions of any operating systems and software. Old or outdated operating systems and apps are often the easiest targets for ransomware. As part of your update process, make sure to back up all your files and store them either in the cloud or on an external hard drive.
In addition, make sure you never open attachments or click any links included in unsolicited emails. This will cut down on your odds of being victimized by ransomware or other cybercriminal activity, such as phishing attacks. You can use these tips to protect not only your own individual computers and devices, but also those of your employees and coworkers.
To better protect your business, consider investing in security awareness training for your employees to ensure they have all the information they need to help secure the company from ransomware. Our Ransomware Training for Employees course is a great way to get started. After all, employees really are the first line of defense for any kind of cyber-attack!
In the meantime, you can take measures to protect your company by implementing some restrictions on computers and servers. For example, limit permissions when it comes to installing new software. This safeguards your network with a process through which IT approves any new software or app download, ensuring that nothing malicious is being installed on any company computers, mobile devices, or networks. You can also whitelist certain applications to make sure only approved programs can be used on your network. In addition, you can utilize firewalls to block malicious IP addresses, scan all emails for potential threats, and ensure email spam filters are in place so most phishing emails don’t end up in employee inboxes.
While your IT department can help you and your team become ransomware defenders, it would be wise to supplement those efforts with a course like Ransomware Training for Employees. Taking that step will help ensure your entire company knows how to defend the business from malware. Sign up today, or contact us with any questions you have before you commit to a course!
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The original version of this article was first published on Inspired eLearning.
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