Ransomware attacks: keep your business secure


The increasing threat of ransomware attacks

In the past few years, the rise of ransomware attacks and other cyber threats have debilitated businesses across the UK. In fact, throughout 2023 alone, it was reported that 2.39 million cyberattacks took place against UK businesses.

More specifically, London has remained a common target for malicious actors. Due to the capital’s hugely interconnected and developed digital landscape, our businesses are left more vulnerable to attackers. Subsequently, the threshold for security protections have skyrocketed to match predicted ransomware threat levels.

Simply consider the recent ShinyHunters ransomware attack on Ticketmaster. The reality of such a hack can impact your customers’ data on a worldwide scale, not just your business and employee data. A ransom adds to the dilemma, creating a ticking time bomb while your operations are brought to a standstill. This means that once you’re able to resume services, customer confidence and loyalty is lost indefinitely.

However, don’t be fooled by the headlines – ransomware attacks can happen to any size or type of business. So, for budding London-based startups and SMEs, the worry can be overwhelming as cybersecurity resources are limited.

That’s why, we at totality services would like to issue you with some robust advice to help guide your cybersecurity plan. Read on to discover what key security actions you should be implementing in your organisation.

Cybersecurity tips to protect against ransomware attacks

As a London-based SME, we understand the unique challenges you may be facing in maintaining a strong cybersecurity system. And it is no small feat to try and combat the rising sophistication of hackers today. But, with the right guidance and expertise, your business can get a head start and build a robust cybersecurity plan to protect your assets.

So, here are some of the vulnerable areas where your business can begin integrating cost-effective protections:

Back up your data to the cloud

Data recovery is key to ensuring your operations can resume in the face of a ransomware attack. Having up-to-date offsite data copies will prevent you from being tempted to pay a hefty ransom. As such, cloud backup is the best way to secure and quickly recover data with minimal loss of downtime.

Cloud backup encompasses backing up all your business information, including your files, customer database, and even your Outlook contacts. Make this practice an ongoing part of your routine and you won’t be living in the pain of hindsight. When you notice files have disappeared or have become encrypted, cloud backup can save time and invaluable costs.

An automated, nightly cloud data backup service will give you total peace of mind. Some providers may also offer file versioning, allowing you to access previous edits of a file. If you do not have backups and are interested, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Stay alert of email phishing

Phishing is the most common cyberattack reported by UK businesses of all sizes. Although most employees can spot fake emails, businesses overlook the potential for spear phishing. This is a sophisticated type of attack tailored to steal specific information from your business.

Unfortunately, the cyber threat doesn’t end there as the end goal of phishing is typically to deliver ransomware. So, if you come across a suspicious looking email attachment or link, do not click on them as a ransomware attack could immediately follow.

Many hackers can also spoof the return address, making it appear as though the message came from someone else. Some phishing techniques will use urgency to trick employees into taking action and sign off as a senior manager.

In general, be doubtful of unsolicited email attachments, even from people you know. Although an email message may look reputable or claim to be from a legitimate source, it doesn’t mean it is. If you can, check with the person who supposedly sent the message to make sure it’s legitimate before opening any attachments.

Protect against ransomware ‘malvertising’ attacks

‘Malvertising’, or malicious advertising is where hackers hide malware in legitimate adverts displayed on reputable websites. So, when employees click or sometimes simply view these ads, your business could be subject to ransomware attacks.

Frustratingly, ransomware can be installed on your devices unknowingly, meaning precautionary measures are essential for securing your data. Firstly, make use of an Advert Blocking software. Applications or browser extensions such as AdBlock can remove adverts from a page therefore reducing the risk of cyber infection.

Alongside this, ensure all your business devices have comprehensive anti-virus software installed. These tools can help detect potentially harmful ads and prevent browsing on infected sites. You should also have a secure browser in use across your organisation. This includes configuring browser settings to block pop-up adverts and malicious code.

Train your employees

Maintaining a strong cybersecurity system rests on everyone’s shoulders, not just your IT team. And, as your employees are statistically the biggest security risk to your company, you must ensure they are equipped with the right knowledge and training.

Anyone onboarded at your business should benefit from training in basic online security. This will ensure everyone has the same understanding of IT safety and allows you to introduce any specific procedures. Take the time to build a safe and open space for employees to identify and report cybersecurity threats. This is the best way to mitigate ransomware attacks and protect both your business and your customers online.

Training is however not a one-time occurrence, as threats evolve over time. Make sure your employees stay up to date with trends and attack vectors for ransomware threats. Set aside time for regular cyber awareness training days to encourage IT safety and educate staff on security best practices.

Install anti-malware software

Anti-virus and anti-malware software protects your device, your privacy and your data. Malware and viruses can steal personal information, take over your device and make unwanted pop-up adverts appear. Sometimes hackers can use your computer to attack other devices.

Ransomware attacks typically corrupt or encrypt your data, leading to huge data losses. With anti-malware software, you benefit from real-time scanning and signature-based detection to prevent files from being encrypted. This means the software is continually monitoring for suspicious activity and measuring it against known ransomware. As a result, recognised patterns are blocked, mitigating any risk of ransomware attacks.

Therefore, it is imperative that all business computers are protected with robust anti-virus and anti-malware software. More significantly, you must ensure your software is regularly updated, as otherwise your protections won’t be as effective.

Anti-malware software hosted by reliable brands such as McAfee and Avast can offer business packages, proving cost-effective to implement.

Ensure regular updates

It’s very easy to constantly postpone your system updates every time your device asks to reboot. But whilst it might be convenient at the time to save ten minutes of downtime, postponing important updates can cause havoc later down the line.

Developers are continually working to patch up security issues for applications and OS systems. So, if your computer gets infected through a method which was recently patched, you’ll be regretting not hitting update.

Allowing updates to install is one of the easiest methods of protecting your computer from ransomware attacks. Even small patches can fix vulnerabilities in your device which ultimately prevent ransomware from gaining access to your system. By automating updates, your computer won’t even need to notify you to immediately update. This delivers an extra hassle-free layer of protection against new and emerging threats.

Get a free IT health check

At totality services we offer London based organisations a free IT health check – feel free to get in touch regarding this. If you’re not in the position to take advantage of our offer, please ensure the following recommendations are applied:

  • Make sure you have up-to-date software, anti-virus software and a firewall.
  • Check whether your computer and network are securely configured. If needed, request the help of a specialist.
  • Avoid opening email attachments from unsolicited emails.
  • Create a backup
  • Identify critical assets, and enforce enhanced security
  • Training and education for end users

As experts in managed IT support, consultancy and cybersecurity services, we are well equipped to ensure your London-based company and its data stay protected. If you’d like to learn more about our London IT services, please reach out to our team of specialists for a free chat about your requirements.