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Ransomware is on the Rise

Ransomware attacks are steeply on the rise and raising red flags amongst the federal government’s cybersecurity community. Hackers are ruthlessly targeting cities, businesses, cell phones and personal computers—no one is immune.


Cyber Alert Issued


The United States Secret Service recently issued a security alert to all American-based businesses, warning that foreign cybercriminals are going after the exodus of employees who have shifted to a work-from-home environment in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ransomware, which dates back to 2013 is not a new problem to strike the United States.

Initially created to encrypt the personal photos and videos of home computer users, foreign hackers have changed their attack vectors in recent years to instead go after bigger fish with more bang for their buck–specifically, US businesses.

According to research by Accenture, the average cyber-attack costs a small business nearly $200,000 and unfortunately, many of those victims—a whopping 60%, will close their doors permanently in six months or less.

All it takes is one simple attack and a business is destroyed.


The good news is that a few simple steps can make a big difference in preventing cybercrime.

  1. Update ALL devices

Make sure business software is activated and updated on all company devices. Run patches. Update plug-ins and old themes on your website. Make sure you have the latest version of every software running on your system. Those nightly patches are often combatting security issues that someone has identified. Don’t let a hacker gain a foothold by simply forgetting to run a nightly update.

  1. Don’t click on unknown emails

Make sure your employees have participated in security awareness training on a REGULAR basis. Teach your employees to question everything that comes in their inbox and SMS. Your employee’s cyber hygiene matters.

Consider it this way – if your employees know how to red-flag a phishing e-mail, they’re not going to click on it. Rather, they’ll be trained to report it, and the appropriate action can be taken to secure everyone on your network from this malicious attempt.

  1. Encrypt and backup data…then store it separately 

As highlighted by researchers in the International Journal of Advanced Computer Science and Applications, data encryption remains the ‘most efficient fix’ for data breaches, should they occur. After encryption, backing up all data is another key way of protecting yourself from security breaches. With ransomware hackers locking companies out of their systems, encrypting their data and asking for a ransom to be paid before releasing the data, you can stay one step ahead of them by backing up all of your data and storing it separately.

  1. Insist that your employees only use their work device for work purposes.

Your kids playing Fortnight, your spouse looking at bike parts or shoes—all online activities such as shopping and checking personal e-mails on a work device can open your network up to a variety of security vulnerabilities. Insist employees use separate devices for these activities.

  1. You must have strong password protocols.

All employees need to use a complex password. This means a mixture of upper- and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.

Furthermore, all employees should be required to change passwords every 3-6 months, and strongly urged to use a different password than they use for personal purposes.

Source: https://www.foxbusiness.com/technology/small-business-cyberattack-5-steps-protect

International Journal of Advanced Computer Science and Applications

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