Ransomware: What is it – and how can you protect your business?

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Ransomware: What is it – and how can you protect your business? 1

For business owners and operators, the fourth industrial revolutionisa digital game-changer in terms of how things can – and will – be done. Costs are reduced, new consumers reached, and mundane tasks are made easier. With each advance in technology, however, comes newer and unfamiliar threats that owners and operators must be ready to deal with – like ransomware.

The growing reliance on digital and computer systems now means that a lot of what makes our businesses tick will bestored on networks and hard drives. Customer data, finances, itineraries and other important information are all at risk if your cyber security isn’t up to scratch. And this can pose a headache for those owners and operators who don’t even know where the threat is.

Ransomware explained

In the UK, the government’s Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2020 found that almost half of all businesses (46%) – and even a quarter of charities – had suffered a breach or attack.In many cases, the culprit is phishing. This type of cyber-attack attempts to dupe unknowing individuals into sharing sensitive data via a text message, email or instant message that appears genuine.

While this report finds that ransomware isn’t as prevalent as it was perhaps a few years ago, it is no less dangerous. In a ransomware attack, a malicious piece of software will block access to a network or system. It can bring a business to a halt by stopping you from opening files, using programs or do any other related tasks. The only way to end the attack is by paying a ransom.

Is your business too small to be affected?

The data that shows ransomware on a downward trend may be a case of speaking too soon. In separate research, the move towards home working during the coronavirus pandemic is fuelling a rise in ransomware attacks in the UK. And while larger businesses might seem the more likely targets, smaller businesses are at risk too.

For the smallest firms, the idea of cyber security concerns can feel overwhelming – not least if you’re trying to juggle all your other critical business concerns. But it’s important to know you aren’t expected to deal with it alone. And there are some simple steps you can take to provide your business with a basic level of protection – such as regular data back-ups.

Held to ransom – why you shouldn’t pay

If the worst does happen and you fall victim to a ransomware attack, however, don’t panic. In the first instance, technology lawyers such as Withers have experience in helping you through what can be a very difficult time. It’ll give you a helpful insight into your legal duties and what you can do in future to protect yourself from further attacks.

Whatever happens, it’s never a good idea to simply pay up. It’s even reported that paying the ransom can double the cost of dealing with the attack in the first place.

A ransomware attack can be stressful, not least for smaller businesses that might have limited IT capabilities. But the preventative steps that owners and operators can take don’t require an extraordinary level of computing insight. And they can be the biggest safeguard should you fall victim to hackers. Given the number of attempts reported in the UK, it’s well worth looking at.

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