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How to Protect Your Business from the Threat of Ransomware

By Chris Boudreau | February 21, 2022

Ransomware is big business for cybercriminals in Canada. In 2020, the Cyberthreat Defense Report found that 78% of Canadian organizations experienced at least one cyberattack in the last 12 months. In 2021, that number rose to 85.7% of Canadian companies.

Canadian businesses are facing a rising level of cybercrime, with a 7.7% increase overall year over year, and ransomware is one of the most costly threats.

Below, we’ll explore what ransomware is, how it’s impacting small and medium-sized businesses and how you can protect your organization

What is Ransomware and How Does It Work? 

Ransomware is a form of malicious software that works by blocking access to a computer system or certain files until a ransom is paid. Typically, the criminal will ask for the ransom to be paid in bitcoin as this is harder to trace after the payment is made. 

Ransomware blocks access by using encryption. Essentially, the malware locks your files or device until you pay the ransom. Once this is done, the criminal who launched the ransomware promises they will unlock your files with a decryption key. 

Ransomware is proving increasingly popular in the criminal underworld. Gartner found that the number of organizations impacted by ransomware globally has increased by 93% over the last 12 months.

How Do Ransomware Attacks Start? 

Most ransomware attacks stem from phishing scams, in which a threat actor will send a fraudulent email to a victim, claiming to be a trusted source. The email will contain an attachment that, when clicked on, launches ransomware onto the user’s device. 

Other ransomware attacks start from ‘malvertising’, whereby a hacker deploys a popup ad that contains a malicious link. When the user clicks the link, ransomware loads onto their system. 

Another worrying trend is the growth of ransomware-as-a-service. Essentially, this enables cyber-criminals to buy ready-to-go ransomware packages from the Dark Web, which they can start using in merely minutes. 

Why SMBs Are Vulnerable to Ransomware

Many SMBs think that cybercriminals aren’t interested in their business. They believe that criminals are after big bucks and, therefore, the big organizations. But this isn’t true. 

Research has found that 85% of SMBs have experienced ransomware attacks. However, the same study showed that only 28% of SMBs are concerned about ransomware. 

Unfortunately, many SMBs are under the illusion that they can ‘fly under the radar when it comes to cyberattacks, which actually puts them more at risk. Without the proper security defences in place and without adequate employee training, SMBs are more likely to fall victim to a ransomware attack. 

How To Protect Your Company

The good news is that there are a few simple steps you can take that will dramatically improve your defences against ransomware and other forms of malicious software. Let’s take a look below: 

1. Use Antivirus Software and a Firewall

 With the right software in place and a firewall installed on your network, you can fend off a lot of the primary forms of ransomware that cybercriminals send out each day. 

Ideally, you should install a next-generation firewall, which has more advanced filtering capabilities than a traditional one. 

As well as this, you need to make sure that you update your antivirus software regularly so that it can catch the latest forms of malware.  

2. Backup and update regularly 

When your devices and applications request you to update, you should do this immediately. These updates contain essential security fixes that keep your company secure. You should also put an automated cloud backup solution in place, which will ensure that you never lose your files in the event of a ransomware attack or sudden IT outage. 

This is because, rather than having to pay the ransom to get your data back, you will be able to restore your files from your backup provider instead. 

3. Consider outsourcing security 

Cybercriminals often target SMBs because they expect them to have weak security. Without a full-time IT person, many SMBs struggle to stay on top of security updates and monitoring. 

However, it doesn’t have to be this way. By outsourcing your IT, you can improve your business’s cyber resilience without breaking the bank.

4. Enable Popup Blockers

Popup ads can be great for online marketing, but the rise of malvertising means that businesses need to be careful. Using a popup blocker is a simple but effective way to ensure that your employees don’t accidentally click on a malicious link. 

Bolster Your Defences Against Ransomware!

We understand the various kinds of cyber threats and know how to protect your Ontario business against them. Our cyber security services will provide you the peace of mind you require focusing on day-to-day business activities and taking your business to the next level. 

Contact us today to learn about our cyber security managed services! Call 519-672-0900 or reach out online.

Committed to your success, we’ll get you ready to run your business with less effort and more impact.

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