Protecting Your Business From Ransomware

By Jack Murray
Apr 27, 2020
6 min read

Is your business at risk from a ransomware attack? VPNs are popular with consumers who want to maintain online security, but they’re not the only ones who can use this service to limit the threat of cyberattacks. Corporations can fight ransomware and other criminal activities by developing a robust preventative strategy, with a VPN at its core.

Why are businesses at risk?

Companies in the US and beyond report hundreds of ransomware attacks every year, and that number is growing.

Businesses, rather than consumers, are particularly lucrative targets. While criminals can force an individual to pay for the return of their data, corporate victims often have more to lose.

If a hacker takes control of a company server, they can restrict access to essential data. Businesses may have more money to spend, too, so the attacker will attempt to extort much larger sums of money. 

How does ransomware work?

Ransomware is installed through a variety of channels. It might be forced onto a device through malvertising or downloaded accidentally by an employee. With hundreds of millions working remotely around the world, unsecured endpoints are ripe for exploitation. Using a vulnerable hotspot - from home router to public Wi-Fi - could put the whole company at risk.

Once the infection begins, this malicious software can rapidly overtake a server.

A ransomware program encrypts the contents of a server, making files impossible to retrieve. You could lose access to vital information, from customer details to entire databases. Once this process is complete, the attacker will offer to send you the encryption key - for a price.

Paying up doesn’t necessarily guarantee the end of the ordeal, of course. The FBI’s official guidance on this issue actually urges companies not to pay, as there’s no reason for the hacker to honor their own terms.

Reports suggest that only about a quarter of ransomware victims ever get their data back after paying. Once your machine has been infected, it’s a lose-lose dilemma.

If you’re lucky and the criminal decides to send you the key, that might not be the end of your trouble. When a company pays the ransom, they reinforce the idea that the attacker can get away with it; they become known as an easy target.

Almost three quarters of all corporations suffered another attack after paying the ransom.

How bad can a cyberattack be?

The costs of a ransomware attack can quickly mount up. Combining the extortion and the accumulated price of data loss and disruption, the average damage of an attack can be close to one million dollars. 

That’s not to say that ransomware is the only thing your business needs to worry about. Attackers will be looking for anything that can benefit them, so stealing customer information is another way they can turn a profit.

Breaches of any kind will damage consumer trust, leak sensitive data, and lead to costly lawsuits. More than ever, as cyberattacks proliferate every year, businesses need to plan and prepare for the worst.

How to prevent cyberattack damage

Cyberattacks may be a growing threat, but preventative strategies are evolving too. Here are three steps to improve your company’s safety.

  • Install VPNs across company hardware

Securing the myriad devices that access your databases and internal networks is key. The simplest and most comprehensive approach is to ensure that employees use a VPN to encrypt and protect their machines.

With NordVPN Teams, you can protect multiple devices and maintain secure communication channels. Using encryption to limit the risk of an endpoint breach is a great way to fortify yourself against malware and hacking. 

  • Raise awareness of best practices within the organization

Your employees will often be the first line of defense. Regular training and enhancing awareness of industry-wide protocols is advisable. Make sure you bring new threats to the attention of all workers - especially those based remotely -  and reinforce a culture of individual responsibility. 

  • Back up your data regularly

As we’ve already established, it’s not a good idea to pay the ransom when the attacker has already encrypted your server. For that reason, it will be useful to perform regular backups of your essential data. In the event of a ransomware attack, you can ignore the attacker’s demands and turn to your backup data to restore lost files and essential databases.

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