Ransomware and other malware has become a serious threat to businesses across the globe. Many small businesses fall victim to these cybercrimes simply because they weren’t prepare for an attack. Preparation is crucial to preventing and responding accordingly, and we’re going to show you just what your business might be missing. Follow this guide to learn how to best respond to a ransomware attack, whether you’re a small business or large corporation.
How Should Companies Handle a Ransomware Attack?
Responding to a ransomware attack can not only mitigate the potential damage of such an attack but also better position the company to respond effectively in the future. To answer the question of how to respond to such an attack, first it’s important to understand what ransomware actually is.
What is Ransomware?
Ransomware is a type of malware that blocks a user out of their computer system until that user pays a ransom. Typically, the attacker requires a lump sum in fiat currency, but some attackers also demand payment in other forms, such as cryptocurrencies, personal information, or other valuables.
Responding to Ransomware
Follow these steps to respond effectively to a ransomware attack:
1. Practice Prevention
Perhaps the most important step a company can take in their response training is to practice the art of prevention. Prevention is ultimately more effective than a response, since it helps prevent the attack entirely. You can practice prevention by educating employees about ransomware and its dangers, managing the use of your company’s privileged accounts, assigning credentials to each employee, and using a backup recovery plan or service. It’s also important to always update business software and devices to ensure they’re protected against the latest virus definitions, which help devices and software identify malicious programs, links, or files.
2. Create a Strong Response Plan
Having a plan in place for an eventual attack can help achieve a few key things. To start, it might reduce the company’s response time, which can be crucial when an attack occurs. A shorter response time can mean less damage, and therefore, less money spent on the response. You might also consider working with a cybersecurity company to create and manage such a response plan, so you already have backup in case of an attack. It’s equally important to educate employees on the company’s proposed response plan, so they know what to do in the event of an attack.
A strong response plan should include:
- What each employee should do during an attack.
- Who employees should contact if they believe their account or credentials are under attack.
- What the business should tell its customers.
- What services the company will use to mitigate the damage.
- What potential liabilities the company can face.
- How the company might circumvent the ransom and regain access.
- When to pay the ransom.
3. Isolate the Threat
In the event of a ransomware attack, isolating the threat is a crucial step in reducing the potential damage of the attack and the time it takes to regain access. Disconnect any devices or systems that are affected by the attack. This means a physical disconnect from the company’s servers or local area connections. With no connection, it’s less likely that the malware can spread to other computers. This can help protect these systems and buy time for the company to contact its cybersecurity professionals to help with restoring access.
If the corrupted files, systems, or networks are crucial to business operations, the company might need to shut down until it can address the situation. A few hours or even days of being offline can be much less expensive than paying a ransom to a hacker, which also can expose other company components, like banking information.
4. Notify the Authorities and Other Affected Parties of the Attack
If any customers are subject to the effects of the attack, the business must notify them as soon as possible that someone compromised internal systems. In addition, companies must notify the proper authorities, especially if they handle sensitive information. Contact the local FBI office to report a cybercrime as soon as you know the system is under attack. Authorities may have better luck finding and stopping the culprit if you report the incident as soon as possible.
5. Remove and Recover Business Data
The final step in ransomware response is to remove the affected data and recover your files or systems. This is an important step in the process, because many businesses believe that the only way to combat ransomware and regain access is to pay the ransom. Most authorities recommend you never pay a hacker the ransom, because there’s no guarantee your systems are safe once someone has hacked them. Even if you pay the ransom, a hacker might have access to files and systems and could potentially strike again.
You can instead use a data recovery service. We offer comprehensive data recovery and backups to help combat such threats and get you access to your company’s crucial systems or files.
Know the Signs of a Ransomware Attack
Even after you’ve successfully navigated a ransomware attack, you’re not always entirely safe from another attack. It’s important to know the common signs of ransomware to help prevent future incursions, and to educate employees on these signs. Here are some common signs to look for:
- Suspicious email links.
- Less responsive systems.
- New privileged accounts appearing in the system.
- Unauthorized system installs.
- Internal port scans from your network.
- Failed account logins.
There are many ways to respond to a ransomware attack, and the sooner you do so, the more you can manage the damage and potential business fallout of such an event. With ransomware becoming more common, it’s time to protect your business with data backups and emergency IT services for when you need them most. Contact us to learn about our protection and response packages so you don’t have to become another victim of one of the web’s greatest scams.