Ransomware attacks tend to target the most vulnerable aspect of a corporate network, your employees.
This popular hacker scheme trips up an unsuspecting employee by getting them to download a file laced with malware or click on a malicious link. Once that happens, cybercriminals can enter a business network to steal valuable information, encrypt your digital assets, and lock you out of your own system until the criminal receives payment.
“According to the research, 51 percent of organizations experienced a significant ransomware attack in the last 12 months, compared to 54 percent in 2017. Data was encrypted in nearly three quarters (73 percent) of attacks that successfully breached an organization,” CISO Magazine recently reported. “It was found that the average cost of addressing the impact of a ransomware attack was more than $730,000, which included business downtime, lost orders, and operational costs.”
Business leaders should also be keenly aware that paying a bitcoin ransom does not necessarily mean digital thieves will send you and encryption code. It’s not uncommon for hackers to leave companies stranded. While paying off criminals may seem like a cost-effective way to regain operational control, decision-makers might be better served by implementing enhanced cybersecurity awareness and training.
How Business Leaders Can Harden Their Cybersecurity Defenses
Making a case to educate employees tends to be simple. If your team members are unaware of common hacker methods and threats, how can you expect them to defend against a cyber-attack?
Cybercriminals generally target everyday employees in two ways. They send bulk electronic messages that provide some type of incentive for the recipient to open it. These often prey on daily worries that a cell phone payment wasn’t received, or the IRS is auditing you. Positive messaging may include earning a free gift or vacation.
More sophisticated cybercriminals may harvest personal information from business and social media sites to personalize a message. This strategy helps develop enough confidence to get someone to download that file or click on a link. Either way, once the hacker penetrates your business defenses, the incident proves costly. If you are an industry leader determined to protect your company assets, enlisting a third-party cybersecurity expert ranks among the most proactive ways to harden your defenses.
What Does Cybersecurity Awareness & Training Entail?
Forward-thinking business leaders usually consider ways to create a cybersecurity culture, rather than just pass out a ransomware cheat sheet to staff members. A managed IT cybersecurity specialist generally reviews an organization’s best practices and defenses. With analysis in hand, first steps usually include building structural defenses, such as the following.
- Virtual Private Networks: These allow remote workforces to access business systems without hackers identifying them. It’s an out of sight, out of mind approach.
- Two-Factor Authentication: When employees log in to your network, they must enter a code sent to a separate device. Ransomware attacks often leverage employee usernames and passwords to penetrate systems.
- Enterprise-Level Antivirus Software: Having top-tier applications can help identify spyware and other malicious files that are trying to gain entry through an employee account.
But at the end of the day, an educated and informed workforce can prove invaluable in terms of deterrence. A cybersecurity expert works closely with your corporate decision-makers to develop a proactive strategy to defend against cyber-attacks. The third-party specialist educates and trains your team members to recognize the telltale signs of ransomware schemes and use reliable safeguards.
Training can occur on-site or remotely through video conferencing platforms. Outsourcing this facet of data protection also means you are tapping into a knowledge pool that follows emerging trends and latest ransomware schemes. While such intel would otherwise be out of reach, your team can receive real-time alerts about ransomware and other threats.
If your employees do not have the cybersecurity training and awareness to deter a ransomware attack, you can bring in a specialist and give everyone the ability to protect and defend the organization.
President and CEO of Initial.IT,inc. A computer network consulting firm in Denver providing outsourced IT support and Managed Services for a multitude of industries. Initial.IT has extensive and unique experience supporting clients in the Architectural, Engineering and Construction Industry. We are a Microsoft Certified Partner and employ Microsoft Certified Professionals.