Tag Archives: ransomware

4 Complete Data Disasters where Backups Can Save Your Business

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Cybersecurity crisis, natural disasters, accidents – backups can protect your data from all of these.

When you set up the backup recovery system for your company network, it’s hard to imagine what you could possibly need it for. Sure, sometimes an employee accidentally deletes an important file and maybe one of your servers crashes at an inconvenient time. But when will you ever need to recover your entire network all at once; every server, every endpoint device? Well today, we have the answer.

A comprehensive backup recovery system is essential because there are real-world situations where your entire office or every computer in your network might be irrevocably damaged. These are data disasters that you never see coming, but they happen statistically often enough that no business should gamble their entire digital existence on it. Let’s take a deeper look at four of the surprisingly common situations where a complete backup recovery system is exactly what you need. Just in case you need to start over from scratch on wiped computers or entirely new hardware.

1) Ransomware

Ransomware is one of the most notorious types of malware out there, a combination of a direct hacker attack and a virus that attacks your entire business network. If ransomware accesses even one of your endpoint computers or devices, it can infect, encrypt, and essentially destroy every file on your entire business network. And because you can’t trust hackers to fulfill their word or even know how to decrypt your files, best possible answer is to wipe every affected device to factory settings and restore. But if you have a comprehensive backup recovery plan in place, recovering from a devastating ransomware attack can take less than a day of wiping and recovery.

2) Natural Disaster – Earthquake, Tornado, or Flood

Natural disasters happen from time to time. Hurricanes ravage coastlines, and tornadoes ravage areas too dry for hurricanes. Cities on fault lines are always at a certain amount of risk and, every now and then, the sky opens up and rains for weeks on end. It’s never a good idea to gamble against nature. If some incredible act of nature knocks out your office building or floods up to the second floor, that doesn’t have to be the end. With cloud-stored complete backups of your system and settings, you can install on new hardware with barely an interruption to your business or the services offered to clients.

3) Office Fire

Even more common than natural disasters is the common building fire. A fire doesn’t even need to devastate an entire office building to destroy every computer in your office or on your floor. They can be started from faulty wiring, a dirty break room stove, or a space heater left on and forgotten over the weekend. When you have a comprehensive backup ready to go, even an office fire that consumes your local servers and all your in-office workstations can be recovered from.

4) Corrupted Software Update

Lastly, and unfortunately the most common of all, is what happens when you update a piece of software and something corrupts along the way. Depending on the software update process, this can potentially ravage your entire data system or large swaths. Databases can be wiped out. Your entire tech stack can be corrupted by one failed upgrade that propagates itself throughout the network.

While you could try to meticulously roll back the failed update and correct every piece of data it damaged, it is often faster simply to wipe the affected programs and databases and restore from your most recent backup. Which won’t be a problem as long as you have a managed backup recovery system ready to go for exactly this kind of data disaster.

The key to surviving anything from targeted hacker attacks to powerful natural disasters is cloud backups. When your backups are remotely stored and protected, you will be able to not only restore and recovery whenever needed. You’ll be able to restore and recover in a whole new place, a new office, and even if every scrap of your old installation is destroyed. Contact us today for more backup recovery insights!

 

5 Ways to Prevent Malware From Sneaking Onto Your Business Network

Prevent Malware - computer security concept

Malware is ever changing and always finding new ways into your device

The single biggest challenge of business cybersecurity is the fact that malware is built to be sneaky. It would be one thing if a hacker attack always triggered alarms and your IT team could fight them off like a castle siege. Or if you could always know what kind of malware would attack and prepare to defend against it. But that’s not how hackers and their automated malicious software work.

Instead, it is their goal to find gaps in your security, slip onto the system, and lurk until there is a way to do damage or otherwise exploit your company. Whether it is spyware, spamware, or ransomware, these malicious programs find ways to sneak into your business network in a wide variety of underhanded and unseen ways. Many businesses today are currently infected and have no idea that their data is being gathered, their IP address is being used for spam, or there is a ransomware attack waiting to strike.

We’ve put together five simple ways that your company can use to prevent malware from sneaking onto your business network in the first place. While hackers are always looking for a new angle, a comprehensive defense can significantly reduce your chances of getting a dangerous malware infection.

1) Fine-Tune Your Firewall

The first step is to make sure that your existing cybersecurity measures are not only strong, but detailed. A firewall is only as effective as it’s settings, and most default firewall settings are not sufficient to block cleverly designed malware. Open ports and generalized policies leave security gaps that malware, disguised as normal business network activity, can slip through.

Masking malware invasions is the primary way that hackers sneak through a firewall. The programs look and act like something firewall default settings will allow and then download themselves right onto your network. Work with your IT team and managed service provider to fine-tune your firewall so that only very specific work activity with key identifiers can make it through.

2) Employee Cybersecurity Training

Human error is actually the leading cause of business malware infections because employees must interact with outside sources like websites, downloads, and client communications in order to do their jobs. This is why hackers have long-since targeted employees with tactics like infected websites and phishing emails.

Your team can be trained to recognize dangerous websites, suspicious “client” interactions, potentially infected downloads, and phishing email attempts so that these are no longer an avenue for business malware infection.

3) Regular Virus Detection Scanning

It’s also safe to assume that at some point, malware will find it’s way onto your network. In fact, there might be some lurking right now from a time before you increased your cybersecurity procedures. This is why virus scanning is so important for both individual workstations and the network as a whole.

There are a variety of virus scanning solutions. There are programs that scan email attachments, computer hard drives, database servers, and complex networks. Make sure to perform comprehensive scans regularly to ensure that particularly sneaky malware does not stay for long.

4) Audit Employee Mobile Devices

Another dangerous avenue for malware infection are employee phones, tablets, and laptops. The more personal a device, the more likely it is that an employee has used it without a business-level of cybersecurity caution while at home or on vacation. The problem is that when these devices come into the workplace and connect to your office wifi, they might be bringing malware riders along with them.

It’s best to make a company policy that requires monthly virus scans of employee mobile devices, particularly if these devices are provided by the company. If employees are uncomfortable with having their personal devices checked for malware, ask them to refrain from connecting to the central company network with unsecured devices.

5) Work-Only USB Drives

Finally, watch out for USB drives. These incredibly useful little devices are great for transferring data from one computer and location to the next, but they can also be carrying infectious malware programs without the knowledge of the user. Once again, this is an especially serious risk when employees are using USBs they have brought from home.

If your workplace uses or permits the use of USB drives for file storage and transfer, make sure the drives are scanned and fully wiped regularly and consider limiting employees to only using work-provided USBs (that you can regularly secure) for plugging into work computers.

Malware is designed to be slippery, to hide on infected devices and to spread to new devices and networks when possible. Protect your business network from sneaky malware infection by covering all your bases, scanning for viruses regularly, and limiting employee’s ability to accidentally bring viruses to work from less careful personal online activities.

For more expert cybersecurity advice, a consultation on the health of your network, or a new MSP partnership for your business, contact us today!

3 Reasons Why Your Malware Needs Active Management

Business man downloading an anti-malware program or antivirus software

Are your servers and workstations protected?

Everyone knows the importance of installing malware and virus protection. Whenever you get a new laptop or device, a quick click to your preferred vendor is usually one of the first steps you have the computer connections to the Internet. But knowing how the programs work is almost as important as knowing how important they are.

How do malware programs work?

Most anti-malware programs compare downloads and new programs against a list of known malware signatures. In other words, they compare incoming data and code against recognizable bits of malware. If it finds a match, the new download is either blocked entirely or is more closely scrutinized.

Other types of antivirus and anti-malware tools investigate potential threats in different ways. They might test out suspect downloads in a closed environment, or a ‘sandbox,’ to see how it behaves. Some smart programs look at how downloads behave before weighing in. So most malware protections don’t just scan initial downloads and new activity. They also monitor your computer as a whole for new or suspicious behavior.

What do patches and new updates provide?

Malware is getting smarter and stronger all the time. Your tools need to update ahead of that curve to provide continuous security to your system. A lot of upgrades are centered around the program’s database of known threats. As the service provider and cybersecurity institutions identify new threats, they add them to the database. But if you don’t install the new patch or ignore the update alert, that new information is never added to your computer.

Updates can also improve control over the sandbox environment or add new warning signs for behavioral anti-malware programs to investigate. Basically, if your anti-malware was downloaded a year ago and never updated, it won’t know what to do against new threats. Virus creators and malicious actors know that people tend to be a bit lax on their updates, so they tend to focus on malware that doesn’t display any of the old warning signs.

Why should you leave the update schedule in the hands of your IT service?

Leaving update schedules up to your employees is bad for business. The same people who leave their computer in sleep mode instead of shutting it down for new updates also won’t update the software. Here are three reasons why leaving it in the hands of an administrator, especially a third-party administrator, is better:

1. You know that everyone’s device is up-to-date.

Some of your employees will update their anti-malware software as soon as they get the alert. Others might shut down their computer regularly enough that the system updates without their knowledge. But other updates might linger for days or weeks before they’re implemented.

When your company uses mobile devices that aren’t always on your network, it’s easier for unsecured devices to pick up a bug and bring it into the office. But, when control of the update schedule is centralized, you don’t have to worry about delays.

Centralized control also brings a stronger guarantee: you know that everyone is using the same program. BYOD policies and laptops that have been used by the same employees for years could have a random scattering of different antivirus programs, all with different levels of quality and privacy. But your IT service will both provide a program and ensure its updates.

2. You get a report so you can verify that your company is in compliance.

You don’t just want to know that everyone’s computer is updated. Depending on your industry, you might need regular proof of when updates happened and what types of updates they were. Regulatory agencies are getting more and more strict about data leaks, and professionals will give you records and receipts for your paper trail.

3. Internal emergencies won’t cause delays.

Even if you hand over anti-malware updates to a systems administrator in your office, there could still be delays. A website outage, a late product delivery, or even downsizing could get in the way of the schedule. But when you use a third-party IT service, the update schedule is preset and one of their business priorities.

If you want to make sure your anti-malware software is strong both now and in the future, browse our services to find the right package for your business.

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.