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How to protect your company from any crypto virus and ransomware

If you want peace of mind over the Christmas period while you focus on family and friends, make sure that your company is protected from crypto virus and ransomware attacks.

Crypto Viruses

During the Christmas and holiday periods we usually see a spike in ransomware attacks among our clients. It’s been reported that in the past three years, ransomware attacks increased by almost one third over the Christmas period compared to the monthly average. To protect your business from this type of attack, we recommend some simple steps that you can take.

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What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is malware (malicious software) that locks a victim’s information, the attacker holding it to ransom and threatening to delete the infected data if their demands aren’t met. It works by encrypting data in files, database and applications so that they can’t be accessed by the owner anymore.Designed to spread across a network, it can bring an organisation to a stop very quickly and, depending on the type of ransomware used, it will do it by encrypting the operating system or files. Ransomware is often introduced into a victim’s systems through spam e-mail campaigns and phishing, though it can also be more targeted.This year alone, in the UK there were 14.6 million ransomware attacks; the head of the UK’s GCHQ confirmed that the number of attacks on British institutions had doubled in the past year. Such is the serious nature of these types of attacks, the National Cyber Security Centre calls them “the most immediate danger to UK businesses”.By 2031, it’s estimated that ransomware attacks will cost victims an estimated $265 billion globally, but the cost isn’t just financial cost. Reputations and client relations are also damaged when a business is subject to such an attack and business disruption can have a long-term affect.

What is a crypto virus?

A specific example of ransomware is a crypto virus, which encrypts individual files and demands a ransom for a decryption code. You won’t be locked out of your computer by a crypto virus, but it will stop you accessing important files, warning you that it has access to key information and unless a fee is paid, the data may be permanently destroyed. 

The cost of ransomware

While any user is at potential risk from a ransomware attack, some attacks are on such a scale that they act as a stark reminder of just how vulnerable users and organisations are:
  • WannaCry: This ransom attack in 2017 shut down hundreds of thousands of computers globally. An early cryptoworm, the malware could clone itself to infect more computers, affecting organisations in 150 countries, including the NHS in the UK, which lost £92m.
  • RYUK: In 2019 and 2020 this caused infections through malicious e-mails and phishing e-mails which contained dangerous links and attachments. A ransom of $300,000 was demanded, making it one of the most expensive and, according to the FBI, it has caused more than $60 million in damage worldwide.
  • TeslaCrypt: In 2016, video games were affected by this Trojan ransomware which infected game saves, user profiles and recorded replays in 40 different games, which meant it had far-reaching effects.
  • REvil: In 2021 this group claimed to have acquired the plans to Apple’s future products, including the plans for new versions of the Apple laptop and watch. They demanded £50 million to delete the data without releasing it. 

How to protect your business from a ransomware attack

The thought of a ransomware attack should cause a sleepless night or two for many organisations, but because prevention is definitely better than cure, here are some simple steps to help protect you and your business systems from attack:
  • Never open suspicious files or attachments or click links you don’t recognise
  • Install security software on your devices to make it harder for malware to take control
  • Keep software up to date so you have the latest security patches and fixes for security loopholes
  • Update devices so you have the latest operating systems
  • Set up multi-factor authentication, for better identity checks, via a phone call or text
  • Conduct vulnerability scans to help you find intruders in your systems
  • Train user/employees in cyber security to increase awareness of the risk and how to spot attacks
  • Set up protocols to ensure that all users protect personal info
  • Re-enable the ability to see full file extensions as this can make it easier to spot suspicious files
  • Regularly back up your data as a contingency plan so that if the worst happens, you may not need to pay a ransom

Expert help from Syn-Star’s specialist team

The threat of ransomware and crypto viruses isn’t going away and protecting your systems and business against such potentially devastating attacks needs to be a key part of any businesses cyber security planning.Read more about Syn-Star’s approach to cyber security with our Top 8 Cyber Security Tips You Must Know, or get in contact with our experienced team if you would like to find out more about protecting yourself from ransomware and about your other cyber security concerns.

Why you should review your IT strategy

Today technology is ubiquitous, not only for business but also for consumers.

We all take our technology everywhere with us and we expect interaction as a customer to be easy and convenient, whether it’s from the palm of your hand or your home computer.

The fact that technology is part of our daily lives illustrates how vital it is for any business to make sure it is using its technology effectively and to evolve when necessary. 

From the way your teams communicate internally and with customers to boosting productivity and reducing costs, a failure to understand how your technology is driving or impeding these aspects of your business will take its toll on performance.

Businesses also run the risk of exposing themselves and their customers to security breaches as cybercrime approaches and malware constantly evolves to beat existing security measures, with the potential to halt operations, risk customer data and damage the business’s reputation.

Businesses which don’t invest in reviewing their IT strategy run the risk of missing out on innovation and changing habits, falling behind their competitors.

Finding the right IT expertise

If you don’t have sufficient expertise within your business to review your IT strategy, finding the right IT support partner is an important initial step; they can offer non-biased advice and a different perspective on your organisation’s opportunities and challenges.

With experience in remote IT support, compliance and project management, an outsourced IT partner can help you with your review to create a comprehensive, up-to-date, living document to ensure that your strategic business plans are not frustrated by your own technology.

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