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What Can You Do To Defend Yourself Against Ransomware?

What are we learning from Microsoft’s recent emergency security patches?

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Are you running an outdated operating system?

This past May, the ransomware known as ‘WannaCry’ swept through 150 countries and affected hundreds of thousands of computers in organizations ranging from telecommunication companies to nationwide healthcare systems. Devices running older versions of Microsoft software (such as a Windows 7 operating system without key security updates) showed critical vulnerabilities to this powerful, rapidly propagating malware.

In response to WannaCry and to future threats of a similar nature or scope, Microsoft has recently taken steps to supply emergency security patches for various older software, including Windows XP, Server 2003, and Vista. Even when an older system does show some resilience to a WannaCry attack, it can still remain extremely vulnerable to other forms of malware.

The issue of updates and upgrades

Microsoft typically doesn’t support these older systems, and its recent release of free security patches is a deviation from how the company ordinarily operates. It’s an extraordinary measure for an emergency situation. However, where will Microsoft draw the line? What will happen during future occasions involving widespread malware or other security risks?

Some organizations that are reluctant to upgrade to Windows 10, for example, might take this is a sign that they can continue relying on¬†Microsoft to support outdated versions of various Windows software when there’s an emergency. However, this is a flawed way of thinking.

  • Organizations can’t reliably depend on the fact that Microsoft will step in to fix old, unsupported software whenever there’s a major security problem. The company offers no such guarantee.
  • Upgrading to a supported platform like Windows 10 ensures that your organization benefits from the most recent updates.
  • Beyond updates or patches for specific security risks, an up-to-date platform like Windows 10 has also been designed with greater security built into it throughout. If you’re running an outdated system, there may be deep security flaws that can’t be comprehensively addressed just by performing certain updates. Older systems may be lacking in powerful security features that newer systems have adopted.

Managing your systems

Another key lesson we can take from the problem of rampant malware is how important it is to stay on top of managing your IT systems.

You need to make a full accounting of all the devices your business uses, and the information you must stay on top of includes the following:

  • The versions of operating systems and other software your computing devices use. (Maybe you’re using similar software across devices, or perhaps the software you use varies quite a bit from one device to another.)
  • The schedule of upgrades and updates you’ve developed for your systems. For example, have you made updates automatic, or are they manual? How often do you check for new updates?
  • The current vulnerabilities in your system, and your priorities for which to address first. Some security flaws are much more likely to be immediately exploited and cause potentially widespread damage, while others pose less of a threat, at least in the short-term.
  • What each device is connected to. For example, a major security risk comes from devices (ranging from laptops to digital security cameras) that are inadvertently exposed to the Internet and left unprotected. Configuring devices properly and limiting their exposure is critical for improved security.

To further discuss these issues and to receive assistance in strengthening the security of your devices and systems, please contact us. If you don’t manage your software and remain aware of the potential risks, you leave your business far more vulnerable to the threat of malware and other security breaches. The results can prove deeply damaging and include steep financial losses, damaged trust, and prolonged downtime. With our assistance, you can perform any upgrades or updates you need in a timely way and implement cyber security strategies that better safeguard you against the numerous threats out there.

No end to ransomware in sight – so how can Webroot Antivirus help?

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Protection against a ransomware attack

Malware seems to be everywhere, spreading to your devices from a range of sources including infected websites and email attachments.

One type that’s been frequently making the news is ransomware. Once ransomware gets in your system, it will lock you out of critical files or prevent you from using devices on your network. Cyber criminals deploying ransomware give you an ultimatum: pay a certain amount of money by a deadline, or lose access to your data permanently.

ZDNet recently reported on how ransomware has come to dominate malware infections, and has become more malicious and sophisticated, with some strains locking users out of their entire operating system or stealing data off the infected devices.

What are some of the effects of ransomware?

Ransomware can hit businesses and other organizations with staggering costs:

  • If you haven’t made regular, reliable data backups that have been kept safely apart from any system infected with ransomware, you may permanently lose your data. Ransomware can deny you access to financial spreadsheets, invoices, contracts, employee records, customer data, and ongoing projects.
  • Applications you need to use for your business operations are no longer accessible, hindering your ability to meet customers’ needs.
  • You suffer from downtime, with various business operations grinding to a halt.
  • Customers lose trust in your ability to safeguard your systems and their own data.

If you decide to pay the ransom (an inadvisable course of action), you wind up losing more money to the cyber criminals targeting you. Furthermore, they won’t necessarily hold up their end of the bargain; maybe you’ll end up permanently blocked from your data. It’s also possible that the criminals will accept your payment, restore access, and strike again the next day.

The news is full of painful reports about ransomware. Just recently, a police department lost several years of data (including some evidence) to ransomware, and a hotel paid cyber criminals who used ransomware to control the rooms’ electronic door locks. Hospitals, schools, and of course businesses of every size have come under attack from his virulent form of malware.

What can you do to prevent a successful ransomware attack?

Maintaining well-protected data backups and training employees in safer computing habits are both essential strategies for decreasing the chances that you’ll suffer a ransomware infection.

There’s also another line of defense that can help you protect your devices: a powerful, comprehensive anti-malware program.

For example, let’s look at the highly recommended Webroot anti-virus.

The core quality of any anti-malware program is its ability to identify malware and block it from becoming active on your devices. To detect malware, Webroot works off a massive database in the cloud. The database undergoes real-time updates, keeping you protected against the latest known threats.

What if you’re facing a new strain of malware that hasn’t yet been identified? This is a legitimate concern for ransomware in particular, with cyber criminals generating and deploying new strains. In that situation, what Webroot would do is analyze the new code introduced to your computing device and maintain it in a kind of quarantine until it’s deemed acceptable.

Will this work to fend off ransomware 100% of the time? Unfortunately not. There isn’t any anti-malware program that can successfully block every single strain of ransomware, especially new ones that crop up. Webroot, at least, offers you powerful, intelligent monitoring that will still detect many of the threats menacing your business.

The prevalence and maliciousness of ransomware makes it one of the greatest threats to your business. Although anti-malware/anti-virus software can’t serve as your sole defense against ransomware, when it’s an effective program like the one offered by Webroot, you still enjoy significantly heightened protection. Don’t hesitate to contact us for more information, including advice about the Webroot package that’s best suited for your business.

Why should you install Webroot Antivirus?

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Webroot Antivirus is an award-winning antivirus software that is effective and affordable.

Antivirus programs are a critical cyber security defense. A high-quality program will have the capacity to block a wide variety of attacks launched from different sources.

Cyber criminals are constantly coming up with malware to infect your computing devices. Depending on the kind of malware they use, your device may stop working. You could get locked out of programs and files. Your personal information, including passwords, could end up exposed and stolen, resulting in potential financial losses and identity theft. Cyber criminals can also turn your computing devices into bots that launch attacks on other computers, even without you knowing it.

Your antivirus software is a critical line of defense against cyber attacks. Although you can’t rely on an antivirus program alone to combat cyber crime, you need a high-quality program installed on your devices.

Why choose Webroot?

As with any other software, antivirus programs vary in quality. It’s important to buy a program that meets high performance standards and offers you efficient, cost-effective service.

Webroot Antivirus, which works for PCs and Macs, is a highly rated, award-winning program. The following are several reasons you should look into Webroot for your cyber security needs:

  • Real-time, cloud-based protection. Antivirus programs generally maintain a database containing known malware and rely on it to identify and block attacks. Instead of storing their database on your local devices, and requiring you to update it periodically, Webroot maintains its database in the cloud. The database gets updated in real-time and contains a gigantic list of all known malicious programs. When new threats come along, Webroot immediately performs sophisticated analyses on them. If the program is unknown, Webroot takes steps to find out more about it before allowing it to do certain things on your computing device.
  • Less interference with your device. You can successfully install Webroot in less than a minute. The program takes up very little space on your device, leaving much more computer memory at your disposal. Furthermore, it usually performs scans in only a few minutes at most. Other antivirus programs typically take at least 10 times longer to complete a scan of your device. Even though Webroot’s scan is significantly shorter, the program is still thorough. Once it detects and deals with a virus, it performs additional scans until the results come up clean.
  • A plethora of services. You can choose among different Webroot plans, and even the most basic one contains a variety of important services. These include a firewall, ransomware protection, and the detection of fake or malicious websites that trick people into disclosing personal information or downloading infected files. Webroot also offers enhanced identity protection, keeping your passwords and other user information more secure as you browse the Internet.
  • Available for multiple devices. These days, you need antivirus programs for phones and tablets, and not just for desktop computers or laptops. Many people use their smartphones for both personal reasons and work-related tasks. Their phones are full of sensitive information. With phones, people are also more likely to use public Wi-Fi, which remains unprotected and exposes their device to unauthorized users. Webroot offers versions of its program for multiple devices, including tablets and phones. For basic protection, there are free apps available for both iPhone and Android devices.

Please contact us to further discuss picking the best antivirus program for your computing devices. We recommend Webroot for its high standards, powerful performance, and ease of use. If you’re having difficulty deciding which Webroot plan to pick, we can review them with you and make sure you’re getting the most out of whatever plan you invest in. A high-quality antivirus program is essential for keeping your computing devices and online identity safe against cyber attacks.