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Why Ransomware Should Be Your #1 Cybersecurity Priority in 2021

Why Ransomware Should Be Your #1 Cybersecurity Priority in 2021

More and more businesses and organizations are starting to take cybersecurity seriously. Organizational leaders are looking for ways to better secure their business networks and protect company and client data. Ransomware is one of the leading cybersecurity threats in today’s business environment – here’s everything you need to know to be prepared.

Everything You Need to Know About Ransomware & Why It Should Be Your #1 Cybersecurity Priority in 2021

We’ve noticed an interesting trend lately. We’ve been getting more and more calls from Canadian organizations that are trying to get serious about cybersecurity. With more organizations conducting business online, the importance of keeping data and resources secure and available has become more important than ever before.

Businesses and organizations in all industries are looking for concrete ways that they can deploy a secure IT infrastructure and ensure that existing cyber threats are mitigated proactively. However, while many organizational leaders are hoping for an all-in-one, quick-fix cybersecurity solution, we’re trying to encourage professional teams to rethink what it means to take cybersecurity seriously.

The team of IT security specialists from OnServe strongly believes that the best defense against cyber threats is information. It might sound cliche, but the old adage that knowledge is power really rings true in this case. The more that organizational leaders know about the threats they’re up against, the better positioned they are to take an informed approach to cybersecurity.

That’s why today we want to focus on sharing some crucial information about one of the leading cybersecurity threats targeting Canadian organizations: ransomware. Ransomware attacks have become an epidemic and it’s critical that professional teams know how to mitigate, identify, and strategically respond to ransomware threats of all kinds. The reality is, the potential effects of a ransomware attack can be devastating for organizations that are already struggling in uncertain times.

We truly believe that Canadian organizations should be making ransomware mitigation their top cybersecurity priority in 2021. So, we’ve put together a quick reference guide that will help you understand what ransomware attacks are, which organizations are affected by them, why prevention is important, and how you can approach risk mitigation. We’ve also included a short video summarizing all the key take-aways. Our hope is that this information will point you in the right direction when it comes to taking ransomware seriously.

First Things First: What is Ransomware?

Let’s start by breaking down the basics. Ransomware is a sensitive subject that business leaders really cannot afford to ignore. The truth is, organizations can save thousands of dollars just by paying attention to the existence of ransomware threats and understanding how they work.

However, even though ransomware attacks have been around for a while, many busy professionals hear the word ransomware and have no idea what is involved in an attack. Below, we’ve broken down how ransomware works and the most common ways it’s deployed against organizations like yours.

Ransomware is a form of malware that maliciously encrypts the files of an unsuspecting victim. Once the files have been encrypted – meaning the owner of the files cannot access them – the attacker will then demand a financial ransom from the victim in order to restore access to their own files. Pretty terrible, right? The idea of some malicious cyber actor moving in on your network to hold your own data hostage is enough to keep you up at night. The worst part is that these ransomware attacks can occur in a variety of ways that seek to target and trick your employees.

Most commonly, these attacks are deployed through phishing and social engineering scams. These involve hackers sending legitimate-looking emails that encourage your employees to click on a malicious link or download a malicious file. Once the click has been made, the hackers have access and can take hold of your business data without your control. Other more aggressive ransomware attacks are deployed by exploiting network vulnerabilities to get their hands on your data without having to dupe your team members.

Regardless of how the attack occurs, knowing that these threats exist and understanding the key ways to mitigate them is essential. It’s also important to know which organizations are most susceptible to these attacks so you can measure your organization’s risk level. In the next section, we breakdown who should be thinking about ransomware mitigation.

Which Organizations Need to be Worried About Ransomware Attacks?

You might be thinking that ransomware attacks are only deployed against giant enterprises that work with large amounts of highly sensitive data. Think again. The reality is, ransomware hackers do not discriminate when it comes to targeting potential victims. One thing that all IT consultants and cybersecurity experts agree on is that ransomware is a severe and significant threat for businesses of all sizes and in all industries.

The unfortunate reality is, ransomware attacks can be deployed against all organizations including:

  • Million-dollar enterprises
  • Global corporations
  • Healthcare organizations
  • Schools
  • Government agencies
  • Non-profit organizations
  • Small businesses

That’s the ugly truth. Ransomware hackers don’t care about your industry, the size of your business, or the nature of the work you do. Ransomware is a threat to all organizations and this means that your organization is a target. In our concluding sections, we’re going to talk about why ransomware prevention is so important and offer some concrete tips to help your organization proactively mitigate existing ransomware threats.

Why is Ransomware Prevention so Important?

The critical importance of proactive ransomware prevention is simple: it really only takes one wrong click to take down your entire organization. While that might sound dramatic, it’s the cold hard truth. Ransomware hackers have the capacity to hold your data and systems hostage, making it impossible for you to serve clients or continue with business as usual. Even worse? They demand massive payouts just so you can regain access to the critical data and resources you need.

There’s a big debate in the IT security industry about how much a ransomware attack might cost victimized organizations. While there is some conflicting information about how much certain aspects of ransomware recovery will cost, there is consensus about one thing: the overall financial burden of a ransomware attack is enough to truly devastate affected organizations. These financial strains can leave many organizations severely in debt and may result in others having to close their doors forever.

Even if the financial risks weren’t troubling enough, ransomware attacks can also cause major damage to an organization’s reputation. When data or systems are held hostage, there’s a need to inform clients and stakeholders about what’s going on. This can leave clients and third-party stakeholders skeptical about your organization’s cybersecurity posture and may result in reputational damage that hangs over your head for years to come. This is even worse in cases where a ransomware attack results in non-compliance penalties for highly regulated industries.

How Can Your Organization Protect Itself From Ransomware Attacks? 5 Simple Tips

Alright, enough of the doom and gloom. We’ve made it clear that ransomware threats are very prevalent and very serious, but now let’s focus on what you can do to protect yourself. The key is that you should not procrastinate. Your organization needs to take immediate action to protect your business from ransomware threats and ensure your business reputation and continuity aren’t constantly at stake. The truth is, by taking the right approach, you can really be your own hero when it comes to ransomware prevention.

Here are some initial tactics for proactive ransomware mitigation and protection:

Do Your Research 

We said it once and we’ll say it again – knowledge is power. The first step in developing a reliable ransomware mitigation strategy is to understand the specific threats you’re up against. Read up on recent ransomware scams and try to understand how they are most commonly occurring. Check out IT industry blogs and resources for the most up-to-date information. Talk to others in your industry to see what they have heard or experienced when it comes to ransomware. The more you know about existing threats, the better positioned you’ll be to adjust your cybersecurity infrastructure accordingly.

Educate & Train Your Employees

Next, it’s critical that you make sure ransomware awareness a team effort. Hold a meeting with your team to gauge how much they know and understand about ransomware. Do they know what ransomware is? Do they know how to spot a potential attack? Once you have a clear idea of where they’re at, invest in resources to help raise awareness and educate your team. This should include background information on existing threats and should also include concrete strategies that train your employees to identify, respond to, and report potential ransomware attacks.

Invest in the Right Cybersecurity Solutions 

Once you’ve got the knowledge and awareness element under control, it’s time to start investing in the right cybersecurity solutions. As we mentioned, many professionals want to believe that there must be some one-size-fits-all cybersecurity solution that will keep them consistently protected. However, the reality is the right cybersecurity solutions for one organization will be entirely wrong for another. Take stock of your operational needs and identify vulnerabilities in your existing cybersecurity infrastructure. The more you know about your network and how it’s used, the better you’ll be able to implement strategic security solutions designed specifically to mitigate ransomware risks.

Make Disaster Recovery & Business Continuity Planning a Priority

Next, it’s important to acknowledge that even with all the planning and information in the world and even with the best cybersecurity solutions in place, ransomware attacks can still occur. That’s why it is critical that your organization takes deliberate steps to prepare for the worst-case scenario. This involves developing concrete plans, procedures, and policies for responding to attacks and rebounding from them efficiently to ensure business continuity. Your plans should include clearly defined roles and responsibilities and should outline an easy-to-follow plan for reporting and responding to ransomware attacks appropriately.

Choose the Right IT Support Provider 

Finally, one of the best ways you can ensure your organization has done everything possible to prepare for and prevent a ransomware attack is to partner with a team of IT security specialists. By recruiting the right IT support provider, your organization will have peace of mind knowing that a team of experienced professionals has helped you mitigate risks and develop concrete strategies to remain secure. A reliable team of IT security professionals will help you with all the steps we’ve already discussed including awareness and training, implementation of cybersecurity solutions, and disaster recovery and business continuity planning.

The truth is, we could go on and on with more tips to protect your business – these five tips are really just the tip of the iceberg. But for businesses who are looking to take cybersecurity more seriously and prioritize ransomware prevention, these initial tips are exactly what you need to get yourself pointed in the right direction.

Worried About Ransomware? Reach Out for Professional Cybersecurity Consultation and Support

If your organization is ready to start taking cybersecurity more seriously, getting informed about ransomware is a great place to start. We hope this initial guide has given you a bit of the information you need to start implementing concrete risk-mitigation strategies that will help your organization avoid the potentially devastating results of a ransomware attack. As long as you take threats seriously and don’t become complacent, you can ensure that your business resources are consistently protected – even in the face of ransomware threats.

However, if your organization is looking to learn more, OnServe can help! Our team of cybersecurity specialists has extensive experience providing dynamic cybersecurity support to organizations in all industries. We can put our expertise to work to help your organization better understand ransomware risks and implement reliable strategies to prevent attacks from occurring in the first place. If you’re looking for cybersecurity support in Ontario, OnServe is a click or call away!

Give us a call any time at (613) 634-8125 or visit our website at www.onserve.ca to learn more about ransomware and our cybersecurity support services.