Here’s How Managed IT Services Can Protect Your Systems from Ransomware
In a 2018 survey of InfoSec professionals, the prevention of malware, especially ransomware, was found to be the most pressing cybersecurity issue globally.
If you aren’t familiar with ransomware, you should know that it is malicious software that threatens to either block or publish the victim’s data unless he/she pays the ransom demanded. Sounds nasty, doesn’t it? It is.
If you’re knowledgeable about ransomware, you may be able to undo certain simple attacks. Advanced malware, however, is difficult to deal with as it encrypts the victim’s files, thereby making them inaccessible while demanding money to decrypt them. This technique is called crypto-viral extortion.
It is nearly impossible for victims to recover their files without the decryption key. Further, finding and reporting the cybercriminal is problematic as payment for ransoms needs to be done in difficult-to-trace digital currencies such as Bitcoin.
Do I Need Ransomware Protection?
Ransomware can target anyone with a computer and an internet connection. Whether it is an individual user or a business, the risk of an attack looms large. So yes, you do need ransomware protection.
If you’re wondering about how ransomware works: when it infects a computer, victims get a pop-up on their screen warning them about the infection and its consequences, and there is a demand for payment.
The earliest ransomware was developed in the late 1980s, and payment was to be sent through snail mail. Today, however, the payment is made via cryptocurrency or credit cards.
Findings reveal that as of 2018, the countries with the highest rates of ransomware infection were Thailand, the UAE, and Iran. The most common reasons for these infections were spam/phishing emails, lack of cybersecurity training, and weak passwords, among others.
Managed IT services providers report the most commonly experienced strains of ransomware by victims were CryptoLocker, followed by WannaCry and CryptoWall.
Can Ransomware Target Backups?
Advanced ransomware is capable of deleting any backups it comes across. A widespread tactic is to delete copies of files created on Windows. Restoring the system will not help you revert back either.
Ransomware can also make its way to other computers through shared network drives. Depending on the ransomware, it crawls a system looking for specific file types. If it does a chance upon a backup file extension, it will most likely encrypt it.
In fact, ransomware tries to infect as many other systems as possible.
That said, not all backups are vulnerable. A reputable managed IT provider can help you fortify your systems and backups from succumbing to ransomware attacks.
How Managed IT Services Prevent Ransomware Attacks?
Modern businesses, whether small or big, often want to know how to prevent ransomware. To find a reliable way out, most small businesses engage the services of managed service providers. Here’s how they can ensure that sufficient protections are in place to minimize the risk of infection.
- Advanced Defense to Minimize Risks:
As ransomware is a type of malware, it is imperative to have strong and proven antivirus software installed on all your computers. Managed IT services providers unfailingly install this on all workstations and serves as the first line of defense.
Further, the second line of defense is put in place in the form of DNS filtering to deter users from accessing high-risk web pages. DNS filtering redirects the user’s web traffic through a cloud-based security solution that can be adjusted to enforce protections that prevent threats at the network’s doorstep, preventing users from accessing malicious websites.
- Increased Email Security:
One of the most common routes used by ransomware is emails, which is why having a solution that mitigates the risk of malicious content reaching the user’s inbox is crucial. This solution should also stop ransomware from causing damage if it manages to get through.
If you think the spam filter will quarantine the ransomware, think again! Having multi-layered inspection for threats is critical. You may engage an IT service company that will provide your system with advanced protection from unsafe links, attachments, and more. You will also be able to block users from accessing infected documents.
- Patching and Updating:
Patching and updating your system goes a long way in minimizing the risk of ransomware attacks. Managed service providers make it a point to establish and follow a stringent patching schedule so all systems are up-to-date. This process takes place without hampering your business’s day-to-day operations while preventing delays in patch updates which can make your systems vulnerable.
- Training End Users:
It is important to train all users/employees about cybersecurity and potential threats so they use their devices and applications responsibly.
Sometimes, users employ any means necessary to perform their tasks quickly. This can mean sending files to clients through their personal email or using external storage drives on your system to transfer files. They need to be made aware of the implication of their actions in terms of putting your systems at risk.
Managed service providers offer continual education to users to make them aware of the various threats in the cyber world, and test them on it to ensure they’re learning. This is done through simulations, where users’ responses to a simulated threat can be tracked.
Organizations may use this information to reward users that identify threats correctly and take the right action to contain it while driving additional training to users who need more help.
- Ensuring Regular Backups:
Systems can be vulnerable to ransomware despite having all defenses in place. A credible managed service provider will anticipate the effect of every possible infection and use the appropriate software to ensure that sensitive data can be restored. To facilitate this, clients are given access to local as well as cloud-based backup.
Other than this, cloud-to-cloud backup solutions are also a necessity. For instance, while Microsoft takes ample safeguarding measures to provide backup for Office 365, all the files can get infected if a user uploads even a single malicious file into OneDrive. Only an experienced managed service provider will be equipped enough to keep your files safe in such a scenario.
- Monitoring and Mitigating:
Finally, a managed IT provider closely and actively monitors your IT environment to make sure it is always safe. They equip your systems to automatically respond and react to threats such as ransomware. You will be alerted immediately should an attack take place. Within seconds, the provider’s settings will isolate the infected computer and run an antivirus scan in order to protect other files from coming in contact with any kind of malware. This will contain the damage while safeguarding other computers.
When it comes to preventing ransomware, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Individuals and businesses will do well to work with a reputable managed IT service provider to protect their systems from attacks. Whether it is removing malware from your system or training your employees about maintaining internet security, an efficient service provider will help you prevent and beat such attacks, as required. We’re curious to know about the measures you have in place to keep your system free of malicious malware. Do let us know about them in the comments section.
I’m Dave Goodenough. I started InsideOut Networking in 2004 with the idea that if we could cut through all the jargon and tech speak and just have real conversations about computers and technology, we could help a lot of people out and develop long-term relationships with our clients.
Today, we have over 2,500 clients who trust us to make sure their computers are always up to date and protected from security threats, allowing them to do exactly what they need.