Protecting & Preventing Your Utah Business Against Ransomware

Utah is the best state in the country to start and own a business—WalletHub has awarded us that distinction a couple of years in a row now! But with that booming economy comes the attention of hackers who are on the lookout for any weakness in businesses’ security systems.

One of the most dangerous threats to your business is ransomware, malicious software that locks up all of your data and files until you pay a hefty ransom or use special decryption tools. If you’re a Utah business owner and you’re trying to protect the business you’ve put so much time and effort into, you need to continue to read these strategies for preventing ransomware within your organization.

How Does Ransomware Work?

Ransomware is typically sent two ways: through phishing email attachments and “drive-by downloads.” Phishing email attachments are emails that seem to come from legitimate sources, but when you open the attachment, it unleashes ransomware on your system. Drive-by downloads can happen when you’re browsing malicious websites or clicking links in a spam email.

Once the virus is released into your network, it travels quickly, searching every device attached to it. The virus encrypts the data, making it inaccessible to users. To encrypt your data, the ransomware will usually add an extension to the files that will look something like .encrypted or .crypt. It will be unique to the ransomware type.

Then, a message appears on each device saying that you must pay a ransom in order to regain control of your data and files. At that point, you have two choices. You can pay the ransom or get the help of a cybersecurity expert (the latter will cost much less!) 

The Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency advises against paying the ransom because the hackers may not give you the encryption key, even after you’ve paid the ransom. Instead, you should do all you can to prevent an attack in the first place. If you are compromised, we have some tips for you down below.

The Risks of Ransomware

The most obvious risk of ransomware is that you lose access to your systems and data, which can be extremely damaging for any business. Aside from the immediate loss of important files and documents, a ransomware attack could also lead to lost customers, decreased productivity, financial loss, reputation damage, and even regulatory fines if sensitive customer data is compromised.

In the first half of 2022, there were about 236 million ransomware attacks worldwide. The average cost of a ransomware attack is jaw-dropping: in the US, it’s 4.54 million dollars. This average does include large corporations – but if you’re a small to mid-sized business, don’t think you’re in the clear. Almost 50% of cyberattacks target SMBs, so make sure you don’t skip out on the IT security measures covered in this blog.

Tips for Preventing Ransomware

  • Regular employee training: Your cybersecurity is only as good as the people using it. Regular, mandatory employee security awareness training is a must. This includes teaching them about how to detect phishing emails and how to spot malicious websites, as well as general best practices for data security.
  • Backup your data: Make sure you’re regularly backing up all of your important files and documents off-site. That way, if you do get hit with a ransomware attack, you’ll have a version of your files that haven’t been encrypted. You should have backups that are kept off-site so that if your local storage is compromised, you won’t lose everything.
  • Use strong passwords: Weak passwords can be easily guessed or cracked by malicious actors. Make sure all accounts associated with your business use strong passwords and two-factor authentication, which adds an extra layer of security. We also recommend utilizing a password manager like LastPass. 
  • Monitor and audit regularly: Regularly monitor your network for suspicious activity. Also, audit your security systems to make sure all of the latest patches are installed and that no unauthorized access is taking place.

How to Recover From a Ransomware Attack

If an attack does get past your defenses, you can do a few things to prevent more damage and downtime, which can cost about $5,600 a minute. You read that right—a minute!

Disconnect Your Devices

Disconnect all of the devices on your network from the internet immediately. This will stop any further spread of the attack and give you time to figure out what’s going on.

Restore From Backup

If you have an up-to-date offsite backup, you can restore it and get right back to work without having to pay a ransom.

Get Help From Your MSP or In-House IT

Immediately contact your MSP or in-house IT staff to start the recovery process. They will be able to advise you on the best course of action and help you get back up and running as quickly as possible.

Hire A Cybersecurity Expert

If you don’t have an MSP, or if your existing team is unable to recover from the attack, you may need to hire an external cybersecurity expert. They can help you identify the type of ransomware and then guide you through the recovery process with special encryption tools.

No matter what your security setup looks like, ransomware attacks are a real threat. Make sure you’re taking the necessary steps to prevent them from happening in the first place and have a plan in place for recovery if one does occur. With the right security measures and a little bit of luck, you should be able to stay ransomware free.

Boost Your Cyber Posture With Nexus IT

Preventing ransomware is a job in and of itself, and one that Nexus IT takes very seriously! After you’ve spent so much time and money creating your business, you should have the tools you need to protect it.

With Nexus IT, you get top-notch security and hard-to-beat customer service. Our average ticket resolution time is less than an hour, compared to the 4-day response time of our competitors. Over 70% of our staff are senior engineers, which means you’re getting the best of the best.

Don’t let ransomware get the better of your business. Schedule a consultation with Nexus IT today to see how we can help you boost your cybersecurity posture and keep ransomware out.