Ransomware knows no bounds. The malicious software has hit hospitals, law firms, universities and has even targeted Capitol Hill. It works by luring the victim to click on an infected advertisement, email, attachment or website and then takes over and encrypts the content of the targeted organization’s hard drives and any other connected electronics. The hacker then demands payment to unlock the content – in seconds your organization has become a cyber hostage. This tricky software provides lucrative business to cyber criminals—bringing in millions over the course of a single year. It has serious ramifications for organizations such as hospitals, universities and police departments that cannot stop operations during a ransomware attack. In fact, the FBI actually recommends paying the ransom in some cases. So this begs the question—what can be done to keep data safe from ransomware? Below are 5 tips to keep your data safe and operations running during a ransomware attack.


1. Back Up Your Data

The first step to protecting yourself from a ransomware attack is backing up important data daily. That way, if your computers and servers get locked, you can have your system wiped clean and restore computer systems to the most recent back up—avoiding the ransom pay out. When backing up your data, make sure to use cloud backup services or to use offline storage devices or servers that are not connected to desktop systems. This ensures that ransomware attackers can’t reach them.


2. Train Your Employees

Human behavior is risk #1. Train your employees to recognize phishing emails, suspicious links and infected advertisements. Gamification can be key here. Send employees frequent simulated phishing attacks and encourage by implementing incentives into the simulations such as ‘high scores’ for not clicking the emails. Through training programs, the number of workers clicking on phishing attacks can drop as dramatically as from 15.9 percent to 1.2 percent.


3. Keep Your Security Up to Date

Reputable antivirus software and firewalls can help detect and block ransomware and other malware. Make sure to always use them and to continually maintain them through automatic updates. In addition, keep third-party plugins such as Java and Flash up to date so that hackers can’t exploit vulnerabilities.


4. Disconnect Infected Systems

If you are hit with ransomware, disconnect the infected systems from the corporate network and disable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on machines to prevent malware from spreading to other machines. Try to determine what strain of ransomware infected your systems—some known variants have decryptors that can unlock files.


5. Have a Plan to Keep Operations Going

Being hit with ransomware can seriously slow operations while you take the time to restore your systems, find a way to decrypt the files, or (in worst case scenario) pay the ransom. It’s crucial to use tools that enable you to communicate during a crisis in a secure manner. Secure messaging solutions like Vaporstream ensure that communications can continue while you work to resolve the crisis. Contact us or schedule a demo to learn more. Above all, stay informed and aware of new security risks. Don’t become a cyber hostage! Have plans in place to protect against them and reduce their impact if they occur.