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Capstone Works, Inc. has been serving the Cedar Park area since 2001, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Could Your Business Survive a Ransomware Attack?

Could Your Business Survive a Ransomware Attack?

Ransomware is every business owner’s worst nightmare. It not only brings with it an aura of desperation, but it also brings with it numerous practical issues that can really harm a business. It is not overstating that it is one of the most abrupt and serious problems that a business can have with its technology. 

Ransomware comes in many forms, but the more you understand about it, the more you can avoid that unenviable situation. This includes how effectively you can train your employees about the warning signs and even mitigate the damage if you are unfortunate enough to be a victim of this complex strain of malware.

What is Ransomware and How Can it be so Harmful?

The best way to start is to define ransomware and how it works to decimate your ability to work efficiently. Ransomware is malware that encrypts some part of your file structure. It can lock down a file folder, a hard drive, and in extreme cases, an organization's entire computing infrastructure. 

This is why it is so harmful.

Not only does the ransomware strain render files, folders, or drives unusable, it demands a ransom payment in order to regain access to that data, and even then, there is a question about how safe and secure the underlying infrastructure is, given that hackers can leave malicious files behind and then access files or deploy more malware, any exposure to ransomware puts an organization in a precarious position. 

I Have Antivirus, So I’m in the Clear, Right?

Antivirus, while incredibly helpful and pretty much essential for any business that is going to take its organizational cybersecurity seriously, it is a tool that works to identify and quarantine malicious code and should be in every business’ security stack. Unfortunately, most times ransomware is the product of a successful phishing attack on an employee and therefore subverts the actions of the antivirus. 

The only way to prevent ransomware is with a layered approach to your organizational cybersecurity. Most businesses are managing five to ten times (or more) data than they were only five years ago. This means the negative effects of a ransomware attack is much more likely to hurt your business should you come into contact with it. 

Shouldn’t I Just Pay the Ransom and Move Forward?

That’s a resounding “NO”. Your first instinct may be to pay these scammers off and get back to operating normally, but there are a lot more risks wrapped up in a ransomware attack than just the obvious problems. Let’s take a look at three reasons why paying a hacker their demanded ransom is not a good strategy:

  • Data May Be Corrupted - Almost half of ransomware victims that decided to pony up and pay the ransom found that their larger files were corrupted. This could be a devastating blow to any business.
  • No Guarantees -  There is no certainty that the scammers that extort money from your business are going to be done with you. They could leave behind other code that will be problematic. They could also open your business up to civil penalties as many of these ransomware scammers do so from nations that are under sanctions from the U.S. government. You’re also trusting them to actually restore access to your data, which seems pretty unlikely.
  • Sets a Dangerous Precedent - Ultimately, the main reason why paying the ransom shouldn’t be considered is because it sets the precedent that your organization will pay and therefore is a good target. 

What Should I Do If I’ve Been Infected with Ransomware?

There are a lot of things you could do, but the first thing you should do is to identify which parts of your IT infrastructure are being affected by the ransomware and take these systems offline. If the ransomware makes doing this unfeasible for whatever reason, either turn the network off at the switch level or find the affected systems and disconnect them from the network. The faster you do this, the less apt the ransomware will find and encrypt additional data. 

Likely though, by the time you discover ransomware and can react to it, it’s probably too late to try to physically mitigate it.

Typically, when hackers carry out these attacks they have their own strategy and it is more robust than just extorting money from your business. They will have plans to monitor communications channels to ensure they stay one step ahead of any IT administrator charged with trying to prevent further damage to a network. They will have strategies in place to handle any attempts at foiling their plan. 

In cases like this, it is easy to feel flustered and overwhelmed. Those are the times when impulse kicks in and your actions will make a bad situation worse. Make no mistake about it, being the victim of a ransomware attack is a very bad situation. One way to keep everything in front of you is to rely on the professional perspectives that experienced IT professionals can bring. At Capstone Works, our technicians can not only help mitigate the damage from an active ransomware attack, we can outfit your organization with the strategies needed to keep ransomware from being the endgame for your business.

If you would like to learn more about how to get out in front of ransomware and all other types of cyberthreats, reach out to our team of Capstone Works technicians today at (512) 343-8891.

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