Network extortion: As ransomware attacks grow more brazen, businesses and nonprofits can fight back

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Cybercriminals have grown more brazen and ambitious in their ransomware attacks — when hackers hold their victims’ data hostage and demand a payment to release it. Increasingly, the attacks are targeting entire networks and cloud services, and not just individual computers. That’s according to the recently released 2019 Spotlight Report on Ransomware from cybersecurity company Vectra, reports ZDNet.

In North America, government, manufacturing, healthcare, retail, and energy organizations were particularly targeted during the first half of 2019, ZDNet reports.

The cost of not preparing can be devastating. In just one case, a small medical business in Michigan shut its doors after a ransomware attack froze its records, The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. This two-doctor medical practice is reported to be the first healthcare provider in the nation to close because of a ransomware attack.

However, there are several ways organizations can help mitigate the risk of ransomware attacks, many of which we have already written about in previous articles as IT management best practices.

  • Monitor your system for unusual network activity. At Sinu, we continuously monitor our customers’ network to proactively detect and respond to attacks.

  • Train your people on how to recognize malicious files and ‘phishing’ emails. Sinu can provide several resources to help your employees detect suspicious files. Check our blog frequently, or download our brief, Oh, the Humanity! The Role People Play in Data Security.

  • Back up data to restore lost files with minimal disruption. Sinu selects backup, continuity and disaster recovery solutions based on the same criteria – we look for cloud-first solutions which are built to be future-proof as software advances. We also look for scalability. We offer a one-page document which provides a snapshot of the different features of two types of backup solutions, as well as another brief with longer, more detailed descriptions of back-up solutions. You can download them here.

  • Install the latest software updates and patches. The Guardian explains that “hackers are notoriously looking for older systems that they can compromise, and if all of your devices are running the latest and greatest versions of Windows, Mac OS X and macOS then they may ignore you in lieu for another small business that’s easier to infiltrate.”

Equally important is understanding what hardware is related to each business solution in your company. You want to make sure your hardware and other solutions are compatible with any upgrades before installing them, and if any of that hardware is 5-10+ years old, older hardware, like older humans are the most vulnerable to injury. Sinu takes care of these updates automatically for our customers, but if you are managing your IT in-house, here are a few tips on avoiding obsolete technology.

With our IT support services for small businesses and nonprofits in New York City and Washington D.C, clients can rest assured because our team takes care of keeping devices and computers current and secure. If you have questions about how to prioritize updates, our experts are just a phone call away!