Increasingly, companies are permanently implementing a hybrid or fully remote work structure after initially introducing the option as a temporary response to the global pandemic.
The benefits of a digital workforce are clear. Not only can organizations offer a more flexible workday that better attracts talent in today’s competitive job market, but also generate new cost efficiencies by improving productivity and reducing overhead. However, as more employees access sensitive company data remotely from their personal devices and networks, new security vulnerabilities are emerging.
To better manage risk and protect their organization from the potential legal and financial fallout of cyberattacks, leaders should develop a comprehensive plan to prevent and manage threats.
Understanding the risk of ransomware
Although ransomware was first documented over two decades ago, the malicious software has re-emerged as a high-risk threat for businesses with remote employees.
This cyberattack is a form of aggressive malware that encrypts a victim’s files. The attacker then demands a ransom from the victim to restore access to the data upon payment. If the user fails to comply, access to the data is lost forever.
Ransomware incidents can severely impact business processes and leave organizations without the data they need to operate and deliver mission-critical services. The monetary value of ransom demands has increased in recent years, with some demands exceeding $1 million, according to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).
In 2017, Cybercrime Magazine reported that ransomware resulted in $5 billion in losses, a sum that represents payments to attackers as well as spending and time lost during efforts to recover. And, increasingly, these attacks are being launched on small- and medium-sized enterprises. Tech Times reported this demographic represents 71% of the organizations targeted by cybercriminals.
Managing your organization’s cybersecurity policy with a layered approach is key to protecting data and preventing costly downtime in the event of a ransomware attack.
Best practices for defending against ransomware
Taking a proactive stance when it comes to cybersecurity is the best way for organizations to defend their digital systems. Once a ransomware attack begins, the costs will only continue to grow.
As CSO Online explains, one of the most common delivery systems for ransomware is phishing spam — attachments that come to the user in an email, masquerading as a file they should trust. Oftentimes, the attacker will use a fake email address that is similar to an internal source as a means to trick the user into opening the malicious attachment.
Promoting phishing awareness among remote employees can help your organization mitigate this risk. Providing education empowers workers to learn how to spot some of the most common signs of an attempted attack, including incorrect missing signatures, typos or suspicious links. In addition to training on the subject, instilling a clear email policy can help to reduce the potential for a spoofed email coming off as a trusted source.
While phishing attacks are the most common technique when it comes to infecting a device with ransomware, more aggressive hackers are able to exploit gaps in security and zero-day vulnerabilities without the user ever knowing. To avoid these more subtle attacks, IT teams should regularly check for system updates and automate scheduled maintenance tasks when possible.
As a higher proportion of the workforce continues to access company data from their personal devices, a layered approach to security will be essential for organizations to avoid the costly fallout of ransomware attacks.
Deploying an anti-ransomware solution
Although employee education and proactive software maintenance are key components of a proactive approach to cybersecurity, there’s still the potential for more aggressive attacks to bypass standard security measures.
Using an advanced firewall, Faronics offers antivirus protection to stop all known malware, including viruses, worms and trojans, from infecting devices and altering settings. Our protective security barrier only allows approved programs to run. This helps to defend your network from any third-party actors attempting to rename file extensions, a process known to be associated with threats including ransomware, trojans and zero-day attacks.
If data does become encrypted or locked, we offer restorative remediation measures to ensure valuable company information is not lost. The powerful reset mechanism of Deep Freeze ensures that simply rebooting systems will destroy any malware and instantly restore systems to a known safe state, saving your organization time and money.
Enjoying the benefits of a remote workforce does not mean having to expose your network to costly cyberattacks. A complete approach to cybersecurity can help to mitigate your risk and safeguard your organization.
Contact our team today and learn more about how we can help protect your data.