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3 ways to protect your business from a ransomware attack

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Ransomware attacks—attacks where a hacker will block access to files or software you need until you pay them to unlock it—are becoming increasingly more common. And if you’re a small or medium business, chances are you don’t exactly have a hostage negotiator on speed dial to help walk you through how to deal with a ransomware attack. A ransomware attack isn’t just extremely stressful and disruptive to you as a business owner, but it can be extraordinarily expensive as well. Here are 3 ways you can protect your business from a ransomware attack.

Knowledge is power

Make sure your whole team is security smart. Everyone that works for you should be well-versed on how to avoid falling for phishing schemes, spotting suspicious files and what to do when a potential threat presents itself. Cyber attacks try to exploit people to get past your strongest defences, like antivirus software and firewalls, tricking people into downloading ransomware under the guise of legitimate business inquiries. Have a process set in place for employees to know how to identify common phishing techniques.

Update often

Update, update, update! While antivirus software is the most effective form of protection from your system being infected with ransomware, it’s only as good as its most recent update. Because malware is constantly evolving, make sure you update your antivirus software regularly to stay protected from the latest threats.

Back up and test everything

Sure, it can feel redundant or time-consuming, but if you’re ever hit by a ransomware attack, you will feel SO smart for having done this. Always make sure you have a backup of all your data, stored separately from where the originals are held—ideally, a cloud-based solution that has built-in security. Since ransomware attacks don’t give the attacker access to the content of your files and documents, the real problem with this kind of attack is you being locked out of your files. If you can access a back-up file, the need to retrieve the original from the attacker is much less significant. To make this process even easier and more secure, there are software solutions available, like Mozy Back-up®, which will perform automated backups, so you don’t have to expend too much time or energy into manual backups.

The best way to deal with ransomware attacks is to do everything you can to avoid them in the first place. But it’s also important to note that if you are hit by a ransomware attack, don’t pay the ransom: first, there’s no guarantee they’ll actually restore access to your files after you pay, and second, you make yourself a more likely repeat target if attackers learn that you will pay. Instead, if you find yourself dealing with a ransomware attack, Cogeco recommends contacting your IT department or support centre, who can help contain and back up any important files. You can also report the incident to the CAFC (Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre). Select “Report an Incident” and the link to the “Fraud Reporting System (FRS)” or call the CAFC at 1-888-495-8501 between 9:00 a.m. and 4:45 p.m. EST Monday to Friday.

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