July 12, 2018
With the latest spread of the Wannacry ransomware attack, many companies are now looking at how to prevent ransomware, and scrambling to increase their cybersecurity. Ransomware is particularly damaging for companies because it holds vital data hostage until a fee is paid, thereby potentially grinding business to a halt. While most companies will be focusing on securing their networks, the damage of this disruptive attack can also be mitigated by some simple measures to protect their most vital information.
Here are four ways your organisation can protect against ransomware:
1) Backup company-critical information on external hard drives
One way to protect your organisation’s data is to keep regular backups on external hard drives that are locked in a secure place with limited access. If an attack occurs, your company can be up and running again quickly, but it is important to make sure that vital data is backed up frequently.
Storing data on hard drives does come with its own risks. In particular, hard drives should be stored securely and periodic tests should be undertaken to ensure the data is not corrupted. When hard drives are no longer needed, they should be securely destroyed to ensure that your data does not end up in the wrong hands. There have been cases of hackers being able to access the contents of hard drives even after they had been “wiped”. Only the complete destruction of hard drives will ensure that no data breach can occur.
2) Keep physical copies of business-critical data
Another way to ensure that your data is always accessible in case of emergency is to keep printed paper copies of vital data. This way, you can store the data in a physically safe place, such as a locked file cabinet, and monitor the people who have access to it even if your computers are compromised. However, this too comes with certain risks. Improper storage or disposal of these documents could lead to a data breach.
The best way to reduce the chances of a data breach is to limit access to physical documents and shred them once they are no longer up-to-date. Disposing of sensitive documents securely is of the utmost importance, because once they leave your premises you lose a large degree of control over who has access to them and what they can do with them. This is why it is a must to work with a trusted partner with robust and transparent security protocols of their own.
3) Make use of cloud storage
Cloud storage is another alternative for backing up data. By using cloud storage, your data is not stored on to your computers, but on external servers that are accessible from anywhere to users in your organisation with access rights. This reduces the chances of being separated from your data as all you need to do to access your information is to find an uncompromised machine.
However, cloud storage is not fool proof and steps should be taken to prevent a data breach. Having strong passwords and access controls is important since cloud storage is often high on hackers’ priority lists. Add an extra layer of security by encrypting your data; this will make it harder for unauthorised personnel to access, thus reducing the chances of a breach.
4) Educate your employees
Many data breaches occur due to human error, inattention or being tricked by a professional scammer. Even in the case of a sophisticated attack like wannacry, an employee would first have to click on a compromised link in order for the hacker to gain access to your computers. No amount of security measures will protect you adequately if employees are not taught warning signs for scams, or the right way to handle sensitive data.