It is not often the White House calls on the private sector to help protect national security. That is typically the domain of the FBI and CIA. However, this month, the White House issued an open letter impressing upon American business leaders the need to “take ransomware crime seriously and ensure your corporate cyber defense match the threat.”
Significant recent ransomware attacks – SolarWinds and JBS Foods – have heavily impacted American citizens and are representative of an alarming spike in ransomware activity. The White House has felt compelled to stress that businesses need to do more to protect themselves.
In the letter, Anne Neuburger, a lead cyber official with the National Security Council indicated that those businesses who are proactive in protecting against ransomware will experience better long-term outcomes:
Companies that view ransomware as a threat to their core business operations rather than a simple risk of data theft will react and recover more effectively.
While it may seem that large enterprises are the intended audience of the memo, the fact remains that small and medium-sized businesses are hit with ransomware attacks every day.
Small Businesses: Take Ransomware Seriously
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas warned last month that ransomware attacks against small businesses are often successful and will continue to rise. More troubling still is the fact that, “small businesses comprise approximately one-half to three-quarters of the victims of ransomware.”
If you are curious what the repercussions of a successful ransomware attack against a small business are, there can be many. If your business is based online or in the cloud – or depends on access to cloud services – your operations will likely come to a screeching halt. This downtime can result in heavy losses in revenue, lost customers, and a harmed brand reputation. Consumers are extremely wary of businesses that fail to secure their data. If word gets out that your business is struggling to protect itself from ransomware and other cyber threats, customers may look to take their business elsewhere.
It might appear that paying the ransom is the quickest and cheapest way to return operations to normal, however, paying the extortion does not guarantee your data and files will be restored. Considering data is your business’s most critical asset, losing this information can cause significant harm in the long run.
That is why Mayorkas stressed, “The threat is real. The threat is upon us. The risk is to all of us.” It is essential that every business owner “inform oneself, educate oneself, and defend oneself.”
Three Steps to Protect Your Business from Ransomware
There is good news. By taking the time to read this article, you are already taking steps to inform and educate yourself.
The next course of action is to defend your business, and there are clear steps you can take on your own to get started.
1. Train Your Employees
Train, train, train your employees. Did we make ourselves clear? TRAIN YOUR EMPLOYEES. This is the first and most critical step any business can take to protect against ransomware (and other cyber threats). The most state-of-the-art cybersecurity measures are no help in securing your business when faced with human error.
95% of cybersecurity breaches are caused by mistakes from humans. When security is boiled down, it is humans who can be the greatest threat. Clicking the wrong link or opening the wrong file can quickly ravage your business’s defenses. That is why it is essential to train employees in best practices, such as deleting and reporting suspicious emails. Simply put, knowledge and awareness combine to form one of the most powerful preventative measures you can employ.
2. Regularly Back Up Your Business Data and Store It Offsite
It might be a pain to consistently back up your business data, but it could mean the difference between shutting operations down for multiple days and paying a heavy ransom, versus taking one day to wipe your computers and re-upload all your files and data.
When faced with ransomware, wiping your computers clean will destroy all but the most complex viruses. Like fumigating a home against pests, erasing hard drives clears out almost all the nooks and crannies in which a virus might hide. Once your entire network is reset, restoring your backed-up data and files will quickly have your business back in operation.
When backing up your data you should follow the 3, 2, 1 rule. Create three copies of the data, saved to two different locations, one of which is offsite. You can save data offsite with a different cloud provider or do so offline using external hard drives. Following this rule will ensure you still have access to your information if your business comes under attack.
3. Run Anti-Malware & Anti-Virus Software
Installing and running anti-malware and anti-virus software may not be sexy, but it is extremely effective in limiting your business’s exposure to ransomware and other cyberattacks. You should be sure to run these programs on all your computers.
There are plenty of good options to choose from, and a simple Google search can lead you to the best fit for your business.
The Secret Fourth Step: Have a Cybersecurity Partner
Beyond taking the three previously mentioned steps, a secret fourth step exists to protect your company and safeguard against ransomware: having a cybersecurity partner. Like a bodyguard, a cybersecurity partner will provide an additional layer of threat identification and protection for your business. This is not just any bodyguard though. It is like having a fully invested, security detail that not only works to keep you safe but also trains you to combat any risks you may face if they are not around. A cybersecurity partner will keep you informed on the latest threats, giving you the peace of mind of knowing that your business is always as well prepared as possible for an attack.
Sidechain Security partners with small businesses across the nation to help safeguard them against cyberattacks. More than just giving you protection and peace of mind, this partnership can lead to additional benefits beyond security you might not consider.
In the fight to secure your business, having a cybersecurity partner is the secret ace in the hole that can save your company. Furthermore, you can brag that you are doing your part to protect the national interest and support the security of the United States. The White House and your fellow citizens will be thankful.
Start Protecting Your Business from Ransomware Today
If you are looking to protect your business from ransomware, check out our free Sidechain Security HealthCheck for Small Businesses to find out how you can better prepare and protect your company. If having a dedicated, nationally recognized cybersecurity partner in your corner sounds even better, reach out to us to find out how we will help secure your business from attack, so you can focus on what you do best: growing profits. profits.