Cybersecurity is a legitimate concern for all businesses. It’s not just e-commerce websites that need it. Any business that executes important segments of their operations online, such as customer service, bookings, purchases, data processing, and storage, should have a solid protection against malicious software — especially ransomware.

What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a type of malicious software that holds remote systems, files, and databases hostage in exchange for money or personal information. This is a more sophisticated type of cyber-attack that aims to extort money from individuals and businesses.

According to Symantec, one of the leading malware protection vendors, there are two types of ransomware today that businesses should protect themselves against.

Locker ransomware restricts access to your computer. The malware may remove your mouse and keyboard access, leaving only enough functionality to let you key in payment details or a ransom. Crypto ransomware, on the other hand, encrypts the data in your computer and refuses to let you access them unless, once again, you pay the ransom.

Victims are at an obvious disadvantage. Not only do they suffer downtime but there’s also no guarantee that they will regain access to their files and devices or that the perpetrators won’t tamper with the data after a payment is made. This is why it’s extremely important for businesses, big or small, to have anti-malware protection to prevent this from occurring in the first place.

No Industry or Size is Exempt

Small business owners can’t afford to have a false sense of security against being targeted by ransomware. Not being a multi-million dollar enterprise isn’t a deterrent to cybercriminals. In fact, the perceived lower level of security in place might even make smaller businesses a more convenient target for hackers. The number of cyber-attacks on small businesses has consistently increased from 2011 (18% of recorded spear-phishing attacks) to 2015 (43%), according to Symantec. Kaspersky Security Bulletin 2016 adds that 67% of businesses affected lose access to part or all of their corporate data.

No industry is safe from ransomware, too. The health and education industries have been popular targets recently, along with IT/telecoms, entertainment, financial services, construction, even government and public sector offices.

Malware as Emotion Triggers

If you’re wondering how ransomware can so easily penetrate industries and businesses, the answer is because it preys on people’s emotions. It triggers sentiments that are sure to elicit quick-click responses like panic, curiosity, and fear.

Malware may disguise itself as emails from friends and family, bearing enticing headlines and entreaties to download or open an infected attachment. It may also pop-up as malicious messages, scaring you into downloading and installing software. They masquerade as notices from the FBI or some other legitimate-sounding body saying your computer is infected by malware or by triggering an alarm for illegal activity.

Preventing Negligence in Business

Your staff must be aware of cybersecurity best practices to prevent your business from falling victim to ransomware. Human error, which often happens when emotions are provoked, can override even the most expensive and sophisticated firewalls.

Employees should not rely solely on antivirus software and still practice diligence in opening emails. Simply put, if the subject line and sender sound anomalous, don’t bother opening it.

Any device connected to an office network must have antivirus and a VPN — including phones. Opening and downloading email attachments on your phone while at work can put the entire network at risk.

Connecting your devices to public Wi-Fi is also risky. The network is open to anyone, which means cybercriminals could be lurking just around the virtual corner. Installing a reliable antivirus and VPN is advisable before connecting to public Wi-Fi.

People with malicious agendas don’t choose a time or place to strike. Furthermore, their methods are becoming increasingly sophisticated and widespread as time passes. It’s best to seek advice from cybersecurity experts to ensure your business doesn’t fall victim to ransomware. UpTech 24/7 offers businesses data protection and recovery, cybersecurity, and offers secure wireless and email options. Contact UpTech 24/7 for your next security assessment today.