Ever wondered what attacks from ransomware are? You’ve heard about it at the office or read about it in the news. Maybe you’ve got a pop-up on your computer screen right now warning of a ransomware infection. Well, if you’re curious to learn all there is to know about ransomware, you’ve come to the right place.
Download our new guide and know how to keep your business safe.
What is ransomware?
Ransom malware, or ransomware, is a type of malware that prevents users from accessing their system or personal files. The cyber-criminal will demand a payment in order to regain access. Developed in the late 1980s, ransom payments were sent via snail mail. Today, ransomware authors want to recieve payment in cryptocurrency or by credit card.
How does a ransomware attack happen?
After your home gets broken into, it may be obvious the intruder came in through a window or smashed down a door. Shattered glass and forced entry are signs that lead you to conclude that there has been a burglary. In the cyber world, these signals might not be as evident. Your first clue might be a pop up saying please pay money to regain access to your computer.
What went wrong?
Attacks from ransomware happen to a business when they fail to follow common cyber security 101, such as:
Choosing strong passwords
Enforcing access management controls
Security awareness training for employees
Using EDR (Endpoint Detection and Response) or antivirus software
Updating operating systems and hardware
Cyber criminals use several methods to access your network by exploiting vulnerabilities. However, to prevent attacks from ransomware, businesses need to understand them and be proactive with stronger cyber security.
How can I prevent them?
Follow the advice in our guide. Address the security threats for your business and educate your colleagues. Protect your business from ransomware with effective cyber security solutions and avoid disruption to your business!
However, if you would like to save some time, we can analyse the risks for you, develop a security strategy to enable your business to dig a moat and pull up the drawbridge.
Would you like to learn more about how we can help protect you from ransomware and emerging cyber threats? Contact the LIS Help Desk and one of our friendly and experienced technicians will be able to help you.
The Government have been recently lobbied to ban ransomware payments. They have been asked to prohibit companies and individuals being able to pay ransom demands. Cyber criminals try to scam organisation with cyber-attacks using ransomware malware. The prohibition of ransom payments would cut the flow of income to attackers. As well as shutting down the desire to hit U.K. citizens and companies with ransomware.
Prohibition of ransom payments for ransomware could mean there is no point in cyber attackers going after U.K. Alexander Culafi a news writer from Search Security explores the ban ransomware payments story in more detail.
A security firm involved in the business of combating ransomware has called for a government ban on the payment of ransoms by companies. There was no other practical solution other than to ban ransomware payments.
Paying ransomware demands could be illegal
Companies paying ransom when attacked by ransomware in an effort to retrieve their data has always been controversial because it encourages future attacks. Now, doing so may also be illegal.
The U.S. Department of Treasury today warned that paying ransomware demands may be illegal and that companies that do so could be prosecuted.
The warning came in advisories from the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control and its Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. Both warned that any company that paid a ransomware payment, or a third party that facilitated a payment, could be prosecuted in the case that the hackers demanding the ransom were subject to U.S. sanctions.
There is an exception: Companies that are considering making a ransomware payment can do so but only with government approval.
Specific attention was given to third-party companies that facilitate ransomware payments. “Companies that facilitate ransomware payments to cyber criminals, encourage future ransomware payment demands. They also may risk violating OFAC regulations,” the Office of Foreign Asset Control said in its advisory.
Ransomware payments are controversial
Paying ransoms in ransomware attacks has always been controversial. Firstly, a serious ransomware attack could and has seriously crippled companies and cost them. Secondlay, hundreds of millions of dollars in lost business and costs. Finally, sometimes paying the ransom to obtain access to core business files is arguably worth it.
The counter-argument is that every single time a company pays a ransomware demand, it encourages future ransomware attacks. Hacking groups know this, which is why they keep deploying attacks.
An expert’s opinion
James McQuiggan, security awareness advocate at security awareness training company KnowBe4 Inc. compares ransomware to the Italian Mafia.
“Many years ago, in Italy, there were many kidnappings by organized crime groups of the wealthy and affluent families,” McQuiggan told SiliconANGLE. “They would request large sums of money in exchange to return the victim’s loved ones. The kidnappings got so bad that the Italian government initiated a ban on paying any ransom to organized crime groups. The government would seize all financial assets to prevent the kidnapped families from getting the money to pay.”
He went on, “At first, the crime groups called the bluff of the families who couldn’t pay and killed the family member. However, after a short while, the organized crime groups realized they couldn’t pay, and quickly, the kidnapping and ransoms came to an end.”
Returning to today’s advisories, McQuiggan said that even if an organization wishes to pay the ransom, it would have to collaborate with the U.S. Treasury, FBI and other government agencies to send the funds. “The U.S. government’s recommendation of not paying comes with a similar notion of not negotiating with terrorists. Never pay the ransom when involved with kidnappings and thus, the anticipated action of reducing ransomware attacks,” he said.
There have been some shocking online Covid scams in the last 6 months. As cyber-criminals have taken advantage of businesses during the global pandemic. It is important to make sure your business is not caught out. Our new video shows you the scams you should watch out for.
Business owners targeted in Covid-19 VAT deferral scam
HMRC have uncovered a new email scam produced by hackers. The latest of many recent scamming attempts by criminals is using the topic of coronavirus alongside the subject of VAT deferrals to trick you into giving away sensitive data.
A recent article published on the TechRader website, explains how hackers continue to exploit business vulnerabilities.
Aimed at small business owners, the fake HMRC email attempts to purloin confidential information from ventures struggling to cope with the ongoing effects of the pandemic. Between March and June 2020 HMRC allowed VAT payments to be deferred. The email scam pretending to be from the Revenue tries to dupe companies affected into revealing private information including account names, passwords and payment details.
Helpful tips to avoid online Covid scams
Know how scammers may reach you. Scammers are taking advantage of the increase in COVID‑19 communications by disguising their scams as legitimate messages about the virus. Alongside emails, scammers may also use text messages, automated calls and malicious websites to reach you.
Be cautious of requests for personal or financial information.If you receive an unsolicited request for information, take extra time to evaluate the message. Scammers will often ask you to input login information, or share bank details and addresses with them. They may also request payment via bank transfer or virtual currency.
Double check links and email addresses before clicking.Fake links often imitate established websites by adding extra words or letters. If it says something like “click here,” hover over the link or long press the text to check the URL for mistakes ─ being careful not to click it. Misspelled words or random letters and numbers in the URL or email address may also indicate a scam.
Search to see if it’s been reported. If somebody has sent you a fraudulent message, it’s likely they’ve sent it to other people as well. Copy and paste the email address or phone number. Alternatively, copy the most suspicious portion of the message into a search engine to check if it’s been reported.
Not Sure What IT Security You Need?
Security is one of the most important considerations when building any network. It doesn’t matter whether you are a small business or a multi national corporation, security should be your top priority. Recently office, home and mobile networks have been targeted more by cyber criminals across the globe. As with all forms of crime, the first victims are the low hanging fruit. But the criminals are getting more sophisticated. So businesses need to keep one step ahead.
At LIS, we can conduct an IT security audit to help you identify the right level of protection for your network. Contact the LIS Help Desk for your free consultation and find out how to protect your IT network against data breaches, viruses and more.
This is the ultimate secret to keeping your business data safe. Whenever you hear of the term cyber-crime, you probably associate it with big businesses and corporations. After all, why would anyone target your small enterprise? Thinking like this could prove to be damaging and possibly catastrophic.
Small businesses are increasingly becoming the victims of cyber-attacks. In fact, Symantec reported that out of all the cyber-attacks perpetrated in 2015, , 43% targeted small businesses. Their report also indicated that the attack on small businesses has been on the rise with 2011 having 18%, 2012 having 31%, 2013 having 30%, and 2014 having 34%. That’s why we’ve written a brand new guide. To tell you about the ultimate secret to keeping your business data safe. You won’t believe how simple it is. Download your copy now.
The trend indicated above is worrying. But, remember, the reason for the increased attacks is because hackers have realized that small businesses apply little to no effort in the securing of their data. So, what is data security and how does it protect your business from potential threats?
How to keep your small business data safe?
Data security or protection, put simply, is the procedure employed to ensure that your data cannot be corrupted or accessed illegally.
The idea behind securing your data is to protect your business’s data while ensuring that it stays private. Data includes all personal and business files that are stored in the database. The process of securing data generally follows these three steps:
Encryption. For any data to be of any use, it has to be understandable on a human level. Encryption counters this by using a set of algorithms and mathematical schemes to scramble the information into an unreadable format. This encrypted text can only be decoded by someone who has the decryption key.
To take it up a notch, end-point full encryption is employed. It encrypts every last bit of data in your hard disk thus giving you a very high form of protection.
Strong user Authentication. We encounter user authentication on a daily basis. Every time you try to login into your computer or social media account, you are required to go through a one-step verification process. One-step verification is weak and is easily hacked. A strong user authentication process will often involve multiple stages of verification making it very difficult to hack.
Data Backup. You have to be prepared for when the worst happens. Securing your data will never give you 100% assurance. There is always the chance that there might be a loophole in the system which may include an inside job. That is why the process of securing data also includes a backup plan. The backup will ensure that although the information may be stolen, you can always restore it.
Now that we know why it is important to secure your data, here are seven data security tips for small business:
EMV initials stand for Europay, MasterCard, and Visa. EMV is an encrypted payment system that uses microchips in the credit card to process transactions. In addition, it also protects the information in the card. This ensures that both parties are free from fraud. Upgrade the payment system in your business to accept EMV cards. Not only will this protect your business, but it will also absolve you from liability in the event that fraud does happen.
Securing your wireless network
Wireless networks attract more hackers than a moth to a light bulb. While your standard network encryption key might keep your next door neighbours from accessing your network, hackers could log into it in their sleep. This is why you need to use the strongest encryption setting in your router to protect your business. Additionally, disable the broadcasting function in order to make your network invisible. After all, they cannot hack what they can’t see.
Perform background checks
At times, we might get caught up in securing our businesses against outside intrusions and fail to protect it from what is happening right in front of us. Inside jobs are the biggest threats to a business apart from cyber-crime. Price Water Coopers reported that employees orchestrated over 70% of frauds committed to small businesses.
This is why you need to be extra vigilant when it comes to selecting the right employees for your business. Check their backgrounds as these will often give a clue on what kind of person they are. In addition, be observant of what is going on with your employees. Changes in character should be duly noted as changes in their performance will often accompany these.
Decentralize password access to sensitive data
Never allow one person to have access to all the passwords. The levels of entry should be distributed to different employees to minimize the risk of the data being breached. Maintain the central access key yourself.
Shred business documents
Physical documents need to be safeguarded. Access to the documents should require authorization from the necessary source. This should ensure that in case a document goes missing, you can easily trail the theft process, or at least there will be someone to be held accountable.
Additionally, old records that have their information in the database should follow the correct process of discarding. The best way to achieve this is through shredding by a particular person.
Upgrade your software
Buy the necessary software that will help you in this quest. These include encryption software and excellent anti-virus programs.
Good corporate anti-virus programs come in handy because hackers nowadays have automated their hacking systems. These means that bots will try to infiltrate your system, a good antivirus should take care of this. Plus don’t forget your smartphone. You should also look into protecting your mobile from viruses and this is even more important if you do work on a phone and that includes just answering emails.
Data backup of your business data
Like we previously discussed, backing up your data is preparing yourself for the worst. It will save you a lot of hassle in case something does happen.
A partner you can trust
Unfortunately, these security threats against your data information are unlikely to end anytime soon. This is because the world has all but embraced the Internet. Failing to have a website for your business is just bad business practice. The caveat is that this puts your business at risk of hacking. It is therefore imperative to secure your business in all ways that you can.
Contact the LIS Help Desk today to arrange your IT Audit. We will investigate your existing systems and advise the best way forward to make sure your keeping you business data safe.
How can your business manage a successful security audit? IT audits—no one enjoys them, but they are a critical part of today’s IT security solutions. Audits are necessary to keep your company’s network and assets safe and secure.
Whilst it is true a successful security audit is necessary, dealing with outside auditors can be a less than pleasant experience. What happens if they make a mistake? What if they don’t do their work properly? Then as the leader of the IT department, you’ll bear the responsibility, especially if an intruder subsequently makes their way into your systems.
Is there a way to have a successful security audit, even when bringing in outside auditors? The answer is yes, when the audit is done in the right way and with the right auditor. In a recent article by Mark Weir from from Techrader, he asks how much security is enough?
Cybersecurity is a major concern for businesses, especially since hackers are getting smarter and bolder. To protect your company, a robust cybersecurity strategy is vital.
Establish security through annual audits
While security audits are important, many companies fail to conduct annual audits on their networks. The reasons for this are many. Some view this as unnecessary—if they’ve not suffered an incident, then they must have strong enough security. Another reason could be the expense of having an audit each year.
While these reasons may seem understandable, the fact is that businesses are facing more security breeches than ever before. This is true for businesses of all sizes—from corporations down to small businesses. Now is the right time to ensure your network is secure, rather than waiting to be hacked.
If your company has never conducted a security audit, then it’s time to implement annual audits. You might think of an annual security audit as being similar to having a physical each year. The doctor does a first physical exam and uses this as a comparison for future physicals. When something is different in a subsequent physical exam, then it must be investigated.
Spell Out Your Objectives
When it comes to finding the right auditor, it’s a good idea to develop your audit objectives in advance. These may include:
Writing down a list of all company assets (including data, computer equipment, and more)
Define the security perimeter: things that will be included and those that will not be included in the audit.
Make a list of security improvements and best practices to eliminate threats
Now you have a list of objectives for the audit, meaning these are the areas that the auditor needs to focus on.
Choose auditors with experience
What you’re looking for is an auditor (or a team) that has real-world experience with security technology. This way they’ll have the ability to even the most elusive and serious security issues. You might also ask to see any published works they’ve written. This is another way to see if the auditor has the experience and the knowledge to conduct a proper security audit.
Instead, contact business connections and see if they can recommend some experienced security audit firms. In addition, ask each audit firm for a list of references to past clients, and then contact these firms and ask about their own experience with the audit firm. Once you’ve created a list of auditing firms, ask them for details on how they conduct an audit.
Prepare for a successful security audit
Now that you’ve found the right auditing firm, you’ll need to make sure they’re onboard with your objectives and the type of data they’ll have access to. This is where many companies and auditors have their first problem. Everyone assumes the other side knows what data will be accessed during the audit. The auditor may have their own ideas on the subject, and your company may have its own view on the matter. Never make the assumption that you and your auditor are on the same page about access to data. This is something that should be agreed to by you and your auditor before the audit begins.
In addition, it’s necessary to keep those people and departments involved in the process. You’ll want to involve the department managers who will be affected by the audit. This way, they won’t face sudden, unpleasant surprises in the course of the audit.
Successful security audit rules
Managers will need to determine any specifics to limit impact on their systems. They may specify the day and time when testing will be optimal for their processes.
Auditors will need an “indemnification statement” that gives them authorisation to conduct the audit. This should also be sent over to your ISP, so they aren’t alarmed by the large volume of port scans on their address space.
Auditors generally expect access to certain data and documentation to analyse your network. These may include:
Copies of all policies and procedures (may include passwords, virus scanning, acceptable use info for employees), privacy guaranteed (to keep company users and client data secure), privileged access and incident handling.
Information about your network, and specification of target IP ranges
List of security devices (firewall, IDS)
List of software used on the network
Ensure the auditor has a plan, and that they provide you with the details.
When the audit’s completed, you can review the results to plan your future strategy. The audit report should cover:
Threat sources (internal and/or external)
Probability of an attack on the network
Impact of the attack (should outline how much money the company could use, would this affect the company’s reputation, and more)
Recommend actions to fix any problems
Whilst a successful security audit is not fun, they are essential. Especially when you see trends that change overtime. The audit provides essential information on the health of your network. As well as vulnerabilities that could put your company in danger.
Contact the LIS Help Desk to conduct a security audit with confidence, knowing your network will be more secure as a result. Our experienced team are always on hand to answer your questions and keep your business secure.