Ransomware remains a genuine risk. Small and midsized businesses are a primary focus for hackers today, and attacks are becoming more targeted. Hackers are using more sophisticated and precise exploits to compromise business networks. This means that you must strengthen your defenses.

10 Strategies From Chicago’s Top Cyber Security Professionals

Things You Must Do Now To Protect Yourself From Ransomware Now

1. Passwords

Implement password management tools. Any modern password software will help you easily enforce the following security policies:

  • Don’t use weak, repetitive passwords.
  • Enforce the expiration of passwords.
  • Never email passwords.
  • Never record passwords on paper or anywhere else except in the password management application.

2. Firewalls

All web traffic should pass thru a firewall that applies multiple security functions like anti-virus, anti-spam, content filtering, and web filtering.

Content filtering prevents access to items that would be harmful if opened or accessed. The most common items filtered are executables, emails or websites. It works by matching strings of characters – when the strings match; the content isn’t allowed.

Web filtering directs users away from specific URLs or websites that may be infected with ransomware or other viruses. It prevents their browsers from loading pages from these websites.

3. Antivirus and Anti-Malware

Rather than using free solutions in Windows, use a more sophisticated, higher-level software that includes a centralized dashboard of all devices and notification capabilities. It should be installed on all of your computers and servers.

  • Anti-virus searches hard drives and any external media attached to computers for potential viruses or worms.
  • Anti-malware tools typically include anti-spyware and anti-phishing tools, as well as antivirus solutions for significant viruses.

4. Managed Backup

A backup system provides the ability to quickly restore the operating system of a company’s server and all of its data. It should be a system that can detect if a file was locked by ransomware.

This type of backup usually includes onsite devices to allow quicker restorations as well as storage in a cloud. Plus, a disaster recovery plan must be in place to ensure the right people know what to do in the event of a data disaster.

5. Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

This is a security mechanism where users are required to authenticate through more than one validation procedure. The user will enter their username and password and be prompted to enter a code that’s sent to him/her via a text message or email. MFA should be mandatory wherever possible, especially when accessing a domain/server, bank account, or other sites where confidential information is stored.

6. Remote Monitoring & Management (RMM)

All workstations and servers must be connected to an RMM tool that monitors their behavior. It proactively monitors network and computer health. The RMM also sends regular updates to operating systems, like Windows updates (on workstations and servers) to make sure all vulnerabilities are patched as soon as a manufacturer discovers them.

7. SIEM (Security Incident and Event Management) Device Supported by SOC (Security Operations Center)

If you implement all the solutions above, you’ll be in pretty good shape. But a malicious code could still be sitting somewhere undetected because no single manufacturer/provider can guarantee that their tool will detect 100% of threat.

Some threats can go undetected for weeks or even months. Because of this, it makes sense to implement a SIEM. This device passes all traffic to and from your network. In other words, it sits between your business network and the Internet. It scans all traffic at the log level, looking for familiar combinations of events that resemble a threat.

All information is processed by a computer, and any questionable events are reported to a manned Security Operations Center (SOC) where IT professionals inspect logs and, if necessary, report incidents to the IT provider. This is how key-loggers are detected, and ransomware is stopped.

8. Dark Web Monitoring

Most businesses in or around Chicago don’t have the budgets to implement the same level of security that banks do. So, there’s a chance that credentials can be stolen by hackers. For example, if an employee entered a webmail username/password on a home or a public computer that was infected, the credentials could end up in the wrong hands. How would you know if this happens? You can sign up for an inexpensive service that scans the Dark Web for your company domain and reports any compromised credentials.

9. Periodic Assessments

Your IT provider must perform regular assessments of your network. For some businesses, it makes sense to do this every month, and for others, once a year.

Security assessments use software that scans a business network. A technician will also ask critical questions. This is necessary even if all the security tools we’ve mentioned have been implemented. Because things change (for example new software devices are installed without the IT provider’s knowledge), this can lead to security vulnerabilities.

10. Security Awareness Training & Education

No matter how many tools you implement, there’s always the chance of human error. Many threats come through email these days. So, it’s important to educate yourself and your team about how to recognize email threats.

Most phishing, ransomware, malware and virus attacks come in through email. Ask your IT provider to configure an inexpensive tool that will email fake attacks to all the users in your company. If a user clicks on it, he/she is notified that this was an imitation attack and that they’ve been enrolled in the security awareness training (reading material and videos). The simulations will continue with regular frequency. This process will inevitably improve your team’s knowledge and prevent them from causing ransomware attacks.

What Else Can You Do To Protect Your Business In Chicagoland From Ransomware?

Of course, identifying malicious emails and websites is just the beginning of the “battle.” You must arm yourself with tools and solutions to protect your computers and network from today’s sophisticated, targeted ransomware threats. But, how are you supposed to know which defense strategy is right for your business in Chicagoland?

The team at Infiniwiz at Cyber Security Experts in Rolling Meadows, IL can help. We stay up on all the latest ransomware threats and the solutions to defeat them. Contact us, and we’ll be happy to tell you more.

Want to stay up to date on the latest IT news and info? Check out our Blog. Here are some articles that should interest you:

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