Ransomware has been around for a while, but the threat it poses to businesses has anything but mellowed out. Compared to figures from 2018, the number of ransomware attacks in the United States rose by a staggering 41 percent in 2019. And with the increasing number of targeted ransomware attacks, this malware will clearly remain among the greatest cyberthreats of 2020.

To protect your business, your cybersecurity strategy must always include steps to prevent ransomware attacks. If you’re hit by the malware, you could end up suffering downtime and losing money. You could also permanently lose access to your data, even after paying the required ransom — something the FBI strongly advises against.

How do you prevent ransomware attacks?

To recap, ransomware is a type of malware that blocks your access to your network or the data stored within. Most attacks are indiscriminate and happen because someone from your end unknowingly downloaded the malware. For this reason, the first thing you should do is:

#1. Be careful of the emails you open
Phishing emails are among the most common methods hackers use to spread ransomware. These emails contain either file attachments or URLs that, when clicked, will infect your computer with malware. The ransomware may activate only after a certain amount of time or once certain conditions are met, so you may not notice any threat until it’s too late.

As a rule, you should never open spam emails or messages from suspicious parties. Even when an email appears to come from a legitimate source, beware of attachments and embedded links. Possible warning signs include suspicious-looking email subject lines and special characters in the sender’s email address or in the attached link’s domain name.

Phishing emails also instill a sense of urgency in the receiver, sometimes with a threat of a penalty of lawsuit, if you don’t access the attachment or the link.

#2. Train your staff
Employees have been called the weakest link in cybersecurity, but they are also your business’s first line of defense against cyberattacks. The key is to educate your team on the possible risks, the telltale signs of ransomware and phishing emails, and how to respond to an attack.

Regularly update and test your staff’s mastery of cybersecurity best practices. Provide feedback as much as you can. This helps your staff take your cybersecurity policies to heart and develop safe habits.

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#3. Invest in data backup solutions
Losing access to your data is the most damaging effect of a ransomware attack. But what if you do suffer an attack but retain access to crucial data? The attack won’t affect your operations much and you’d still earn revenue even as you address the infection.

That is exactly what having cloud-based backups of your data would do for you. After all, it won’t matter much that ransomware has locked away your files when you have multiple clean copies. Even better, invest in on-premises, offline backup solutions that have a minimal risk of being infected by ransomware.

#4. Employ a zero trust policy
Assume that everyone in your team, including yourself, is a possible threat to your network, whether willfully or through sheer negligence. A zero trust policy verifies the identity of all users, often through multifactor authentication (MFA).

It also provides users with just enough privileges to perform their tasks. For example, the system can prevent anyone outside your IT team from installing programs, greatly reducing the risk of infection by downloaded software.

#5. Update your devices’ OS and antimalware software
Your computers and mobile devices are equipped with security features that can detect certain types of malware and prevent infection. You may also install anti-malware software that can protect your system from various types of cyberthreats.

These tools and features, however, may do little benefit if they’re not up to date. Updating your devices’ operating system (OS) and malware protection ensures that they can recognize and handle the latest cyberthreats.

Ransomware is an ever-evolving threat. Partnering with Tech Squared gives you access to the latest and most advanced cybersecurity solutions. More importantly, you get our team’s decades’ worth of combined expertise and experience in identifying, addressing, and preventing ransomware attacks and other cyberthreats. To discover what you can do to protect your business, download this free eBook today!

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