iStock_000012767009XSmallYou receive an email, notifying you that your valuable data has been hijacked. If you want access to your files again, you should wire 5,000 dollars to a certain bank account. You check, and sure enough, all of your important folders are locked. You certainly don’t want to negotiate with criminals, but now you’re at risk of exposing your customers’ credit card numbers and other sensitive information. Caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place, you’re tempted to give in and pay the extortion fee…

Last year, the FBI estimates ransomware losses reached about 1.6 million dollars. What can you do to avoid falling prey to these cyber criminals?

Back up your data regularly … and remotely. If your files are ever hijacked, you won’t feel tempted to pay the ransom if your files are backed up in a location where the hackers can’t get to them. And of course, if your business sees a lot of volume, this means you should back up your data every day, perhaps even more often, to ensure that everything is up to date.

Keep all of your software up to date. As soon as developers discover a security hole in their software, they usually release a patch for it. But you won’t receive that patch, and your software will remain vulnerable, if you don’t allow updates.

Segment your network. Instead of keeping all of your files in one location, to be accessed by everyone, allow access on a need-to-know basis only.

Train your staff appropriately. Everyone with access to sensitive data should also be well-trained on how to protect it. Make sure your employees know the signs of an attack, such as suspicious email attachments and links.

Put a plan of action into place. All employees should know what to do in the event of suspicious activity. Everyone needs to know instantly if an attack happens, their role in protecting sensitive information, and how you will address the problem together.

A ransomware attack can happen to anyone, but it’s a particular concern for smaller businesses that don’t have an entire IT department to manage risk. But that’s why we’re here! Give us a call at 888-RING-MY-TECH, and we can review your protection strategies with you, make recommendations for improvements, and help you develop a strategy to deal with any attacks before they happen.