You have 72 hours to pay or your data will be deleted permanently!

Many small businesses are forced to comply or risk losing everything, and low-life cyber criminals know this. They make the ransom affordable enough to make paying it an “attractive” offer – this increases their overall return on investment. Unlike the days of yore where criminals would hold up a stagecoach or rob a bank, cyber criminals are not looking for a big score. They can target thousands of small businesses in mere minutes, and even if only a small percentage pay, they still make plenty of easy money. If the business doesn’t pay? Well, then it says “Goodbye!” to its data. Sometimes, even when a business pays, it doesn’t get its data back…

If you are interested in protecting your business from catastrophic data loss, then I invite you to click to continue reading.

Network Optimization

Ransomware – are you next?

Once a month I meet with my fellow IT industry friends to discuss the local trends here in Calgary, and each time our discussion includes increasing amounts of reported Ransomware attacks. It is big businesses, and Calgary based small businesses are being targeted more frequently. Are you adequately protected?

I have two Must-Dos when it comes to ransomware protection, and, no, “Buy a Mac!” is not one of them. In all seriousness, small businesses must invest in “real-time” anti-ransomware software AND implement a backup strategy that includes a cloud storage service, and one that supports two-factor authentication is preferred. Many other methods are available, but these are the bare minimums all small businesses should employ.

 

Isn’t my free AV software protecting me?

Free versions of anti-virus or anti-ransomware software suites, even from reputable manufacturers, do not activate the features that actually protect your business in real-time. What this means is that they only identify a virus AFTER it has gotten into your computer. And then only after a malware scan has been run. By then it may be too late… Are you feeling a bit queasy yet?

I backup my computers often, isn’t that enough?

If your backup strategy is limited to using network attached storage devices (mapped network drives), then it is almost like not being protected at all. Ransomware is VERY good at finding and locking down all storage devices on a network – computer hard drives, USB keys, external drives, Server based file shares, RAID drives, Network Attached Storage… you name it. Sure, hiding drives or requiring user authentication will help to keep devices secure, but it will not guarantee it. Criminals are getting smarter (apologies for the oxymoron) every day, and it only takes one set of saved user credentials for them to access a drive. Connecting the backup device ONLY during the backup sequence will help, but how long before the manual process breaks down? Eventually someone will either forget to do the backup or will leave the backup drive connected when the backup is complete. If you have a lot of data, the backup could take several hours – and paying an employee to babysit the storage device is not an effective use of resources, especially when there are so many options for data backup automation.

Adding a cloud based data backup solution is key to physically separating your data from your network. In the event your on premise environment is compromised – whether from malicious software, natural disaster, disgruntled employee, theft, power surge, or other reason – then your entire environment can be rebuilt from the cloud storage in hours to days (depending on how much data is stored and Internet download speeds) instead of never… where “never” means you go out of business. 

Action Items:

If you have an IT Support person in your organization, then have a conversation with them regarding your current AntiVirus suite and backup and recovery configuration. If you are like many small business owners who do not have a dedicated IT professional on call and want to know more about your ability to protect your business, then please contact CloudCraft IT at 403.383.3357 for a free, no obligation, over the phone consultation.

About the author; Jim Morris is a classically trained IT professional who has first hand experience with the pain of poorly setup networks. His mission in life is to provide small business owners with affordable services that increase their ability to compete in their chosen market space. He is a dedicated husband, father, and son who spends his down time vacationing with family, visiting friends, coaching lacrosse, mountain biking, and enjoying all things Marvel, Star Wars and Science Fiction. As a transplant to Calgary, his primary concern during the winter months is staying warm… #velocity #optimizeme #YYCadvantage