How You and Your Employees Can Help Stop Ransomware

JULY 29TH, 2021

According to a recent ZDNet article, ransomware is now one of the most potentially damaging malware threats. Cybersecurity Ventures predicts that ransomware damage costs will exceed $265 billion by 2031, with attacks on a businesses, consumers, or devices occurring every two seconds. Their projection for 2021: $20 billion in costs, a 57x leap from 2015. Whether the prediction is right or wrong, the message stays the same. Plan ahead, put effective data protection and ransomware prevention solutions in place, and back up your data. See this recent post for five steps to get you started building an effective ransomware data protection strategy.

While you should do everything you can on the technology front to prevent ransomware and malware, people are, unfortunately, a big part of the problem. Verizon’s 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report says that 60 percent of ransomware cases in its study involved direct install or installation through desktop apps. The rest of the vectors were split between email, network propagation, and downloads triggered by other malware.

Humans are the common factor among many of these attacks, and the report goes on to say that 85 percent of breaches result in the loss of credentials. While large enterprise may have the means to survive an attack, many small businesses may be forced out of business due to ransomware’s impacts. Large or small, every organization should do everything it can to protect its data and prevent ransomware.

Everyone Has a Role to Play in Fighting Ransomware

There are all kinds of scams that hackers use to sneak ransomware onto devices and networks. And these scams are constantly evolving. That’s why it’s important that everyone in your organization understands what they can do to prevent ransomware. Here are some areas to consider:

Train Your Employees to Spot Scams

It’s important that you educate your people with regular cybersecurity awareness and training programs. Training should include how to recognize potential threats, the latest news and guidance on new and existing threats, and how to respond to an actual or potential threat. Maintain awareness throughout your company with regular bulletins, updates, and tips.  

Reinforce (and Enforce) Company Policies

Your company should already have set policies regarding confidentiality of user credentials, even for IT and security personnel. These policies should include strong password and authentication requirements. Make sure your employees understand these policies—and the reasons they exist—and adhere to them so they can do their part in ransomware prevention.

Use Software as a Service for Applications

Using applications that are company-sanctioned can go a long way toward preventing ransomware. That’s especially true when it comes to using file sharing applications instead of email attachments. This strategy mitigates or potentially eliminates malicious attachment phishing attacks, so it’s worth a look.

Talk About Macros

Users that are unfamiliar with macros in Microsoft 365 and Adobe PDF documents may automatically click on an “enable macros” button in a malicious attachment. That would be a huge mistake, opening the door for ransomware. There has been a rise in document-based malware where malicious documents work much the same as executable programs, including the ability to run processes and install other code on your systems. It’s also worth considering using non-native document rendering for PDF and Microsoft 365 files in the cloud to stop this practice, as these desktop applications may have unpatched vulnerabilities that are ripe for exploitation.

Make Incident Reporting Easy

No one wants to be the person that clicks on a malicious attachment or link. It would be easy to beat yourself up if you’re the one. And it would be easiest to avoid the embarrassment that comes with reporting it. That’s why it’s important that your employees understand that they—and everyone they work with—are the victims in these cases. You need to make sure everyone feels comfortable reporting any security incident. So put simple, clear reporting procedures in place.

Physical Security Matters, Too

Make sure that everyone understands your security policies with regards to your facilities and devices, too. A lost or stolen laptop that lacks a login password is an open invitation to accessing your network. And stolen credentials in the hands of a hacker can only lead to disaster. Everyone needs to understand that devices, badges, and credentials must always be kept secure.

Plan for Recovery

There isn’t any way to be 100 percent certain that you are safe from a ransomware attack. Ultimately, the best defense is to ensure you can recover if it happens to you. That starts with backup and disaster recovery planning and solutions. Learn more about data protection options that eliminate ransomware impacts at

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