The Technology Blog

Ransomeware: Small Business Network Security Threat

Small businesses are being targeted with Ransomware as often as big companies.

It’s Monday morning: you pour your coffee and sit down at your computer. A message pops up on your screen: your files have been encrypted and you can’t access them, unless you pay a ransom in untraceable bitcoin to a faceless criminal over the internet. Your computer has been infected with a Ransomware virus.

Shock. Panic. Confusion. Your business comes to a screeching halt.

Ransomware is a specialized kind of malware virus used for cyber-crime. This particular virus has become a huge threat for small businesses, where network security is typically far more lax than larger corporations, and data backups may not be available. Ransomware viruses work by encrypting files on the compromised computer. They start slowly… locking up files that you may not use all the time. Maybe you try to open one and get a message that says the file is corrupt, but you shrug it off. Eventually, the ransomware encrypts all the files on your computer, making them inaccessible.

When the dirty work is complete, a message pops up on your screen that says something like “Your important files were encrypted with CryptoLocker virus. The only way to get your files back is to buy our decryption software.” If you pay the ransom, you are given a decryption key. If you don’t, you may lose your files forever. If you try to remove the malware, there is no way to retrieve them. If the infected computer has network access, ransomware can infect your entire network, and the ransom amount typically goes up with the number of files that are encrypted.

CryptoLocker warning message Pros 4 Technology Plymouth Wisconsin

Many people we talk to have no idea that this type of computer virus is out there, or that it could happen to them. Cybersecurity and network security deficiencies that can expose your data to cyberattack by Ransomware and other viruses are some of the most important things we uncover with our No-Cost Network Audit for new clients. Current Pros 4 Technology clients with Managed IT Services rely on constant network monitoring to identify issues and threats early, before they can devastate their business.

Common network security vulnerabilities we identify include:

  • Firewall problems: sometimes there is no firewall. More often, a firewall has been installed properly, but it has actually been turned off by a frustrated user in an attempt to make some piece of software work.
  • Anti-virus issues: Most businesses have an anti-virus program installed, but you wouldn’t believe how often we discover that no updates have been installed. The bad guys are always coming up with new ways to break into your computers, and the anti-virus software developers are constantly updating their programs to find the new cyberattack threats. If you don’t install the updates, there is no way to find and remove those new viruses.
  • Risky employee practices: We want to trust our employees, but the fact remains that human error is the single biggest cause of computer virus infection. Sometimes it is as innocent as employees being gullible enough to open a suspicious email attachment, or click a link in a spam email. Visiting inappropriate websites can be a source of exposure as well.

Would you believe that our team fields calls about ransomware 2-3 times per week?

Imagine if ALL your business data was locked up. All your emails. All your invoices. All your client files. Would you pay the ransom? Would you have a choice?

Pros 4 Technology clients DO have a choice. We make sure that every client’s anti-virus protection, firewall, and network security is fully updated and functioning to prevent exposure to cyber-attack from malware and viruses, including CryptoLocker and other ransomware. Our Managed IT Services include constant monitoring of client networks that allows us to identify and address problems and threats early, before they can devastate a company.

Despite these precautions, sometimes ransomware still finds its way on to workstations. Employees can expose their work computers by opening an email with a malicious attachment or even by visiting certain websites. The mechanisms for infection are constantly changing. It’s critical to design employee network accessibility to minimize the potential for infection of your entire network by a single workstation.

The good news – Pros 4 Technology clients don’t have to pay the ransom.

  • We are constantly looking for suspicious activity through remote monitoring of our clients’ networs. If something isn’t right, we’re notified, day or night. If one of your employees is leaving you open to cyber-attack, we can find that, too.
  • We minimize the risk to your business from any malware attack by making sure that network settings are appropriate, so one infected computer can’t bring down your entire server.
  • We make sure all of our clients are protected with updated anti-virus protection and security software.

But suppose the worst does happen, and one of our clients is greeted with an ominous ransomware message some Monday morning… what then? Our automated, scheduled system backups ensure that our clients never lose their data. By having a clean, verified backup of your files standing by, we can have you up and running in hours, without paying the bad guys.

Don’t leave your business open to this kind of extortion. Pros 4 Technology can help. Contact us today to schedule your No-Cost Network Audit and begin protecting your business!