Retailers are increasingly becoming prime targets for ransomware attacks. This type of malware restricts your system’s access until you pay a ransom, usually in bitcoin. The average ransom demand soared 851% last year, according to one recent survey.
What is Ransomware?
A typical ransomware attack consists of compromise either by remote access, phishing emails, or other vulnerabilities. The encryption of your data then demands payment – usually in Bitcoin or another form of cryptocurrency – to unlock and decrypt it. There are dozens—if not hundreds—of different strains of ransomware out there, but they mainly operate in similar ways.
Ransomware is not only difficult to remove; it’s also often designed to be almost impossible for even malware removal experts to break through and save your data without paying up. This means you’ll need a thorough backup plan in place before an attack strikes, so you don’t lose any critical data if it ends up encrypted by ransomware.
A reliable data backup and recovery plan paired with ransomware detection and prevention are essential in any retail company’s IT strategy. A ransomware attack can infect files and cripple your business if caught off-guard while leaving you scrambling to recover your data. This scenario is all too familiar and especially true if your business doesn’t have a backup or recovery solution in place to ensure its business continuity.
We have outlined a few of the most important points in an effective data backup strategy that can help protect against ransomware. The following steps are just a good starting point in developing a thorough plan that increases your preparedness against an attack, aid in the recovery of your company’s data. You will have peace of mind of being more prepared in the event of ransomware attacks or any other unforeseen disaster. Let’s get started:
- Update all software & devices
- Install anti-virus software & firewall
- Have a backup strategy
- Plan & test your backup data
- Review backup & retention policies
- Employee education & awareness about ransomware attacks
Update all your software & devices
You don’t want to be the company hit by a ransomware attack and found out your backup is outdated or non-existent. Or that your backup copies contained infected files. The best way to avoid this is to update all of your operating systems, apps, and devices, including servers, laptops, desktops, tablets, smartphones – anything with critical data you can’t afford to lose.
This task includes installing the latest updates for any operating system you’re using, as well as updating all browsers running on these devices. You should also ensure that each device has anti-virus software installed and enabled, so they are protected from viruses or other malware. Additionally, it’s crucial to have a firewall installed to protect against unauthorized access by would-be malicious actors.
Install anti-virus software & firewall
Installing a firewall and anti-virus software is vital when it comes to protecting your data. One of the functions that a firewall offers is protection against unauthorized access, leading to potential vulnerabilities like phishing emails. Anti-virus software is essential in preventing viruses or other malware from infecting your computer system. Installing these types of security measures can help protect data by monitoring for suspicious network activity and by scanning the contents of any potentially dangerous files or attachments that may get downloaded onto your computer, backup systems, or other network devices.
Have a backup strategy
Well known across the industry is the 3-2-1 Backup Strategy. Its described as having at least three copies of your data stored on at least two different types of media and keeping one backup copy off-site. This effective strategy is applicable for almost any business type and can handle almost nearly any scenario.
This way, if anything happens to one backup location, you still have another copy somewhere else to work with on different media. You want to make sure that all your backups are up-to-date and that there are at least two copies that you can restore in case something goes wrong with one of them.
Plan & test your backup data.
The importance of creating and testing a backup strategy cannot be overstated. A backup strategy without planning and testing may not fully protect your company or data in the event of an attack. Whether you’re using a cloud-based backup solution, an off-site data storage provider, tape drive, or any other method, there is always some risk involved. Equally important is the testing of the accuracy and efficiency of restoring your data regularly.
It is recommended you thoroughly plan and document all of your backup policies and procedures, the types and frequency of your data backups, along with the resources you will be using. Ensure that these resources are tested regularly and conform to industry standards (e.g., NAS Storage, cloud storage, data center, and backup server.) This task helps you identify any potential gaps in your backup strategy, unforeseen technical issues, or any other roadblocks ahead of time so that you can address them before they become a severe problem and data loss occurs.
Review backup & retention policies
Retention policies and backup strategies go hand-in-hand and should be considered together when crafting a successful data backup strategy for your company. Reviewing and adjusting these policies may be necessary if your company experiences a ransomware attack.
It’s essential to develop a comprehensive policy that covers how and where your backups are kept. Your company’s policies should also outline what users have access to your data. Additionally, your retention policy should include how long data is kept and how it should be kept current.
This policy can be incorporated into any disaster recovery plan or internal information security manual, so your employees understand the importance of keeping the company safe from data breaches.
Employee Education & Awareness About Ransomware Attacks
Employees are your first line of defense against cybercriminals. Educating them on the dangers of opening suspicious emails, clicking on unknown or suspicious links, or downloading files from untrusted sources can help prevent ransomware attacks or data breaches from happening.
Your Employees are your first line of defense in protecting your company against cybercriminals. Ransomware attacks, phishing emails, and social engineering, for example, can all lead to data breaches. Educating your employees helps them know what they are up against regarding the many online dangers. It’s also crucial for them to understand the importance of keeping the company safe by practicing clean cyber hygiene while working on either company or personal devices.
Again, the best way to protect your company from ransomware attacks is by having an effective data backup, recovery plan, and data protection strategy in place. This includes updating all of the software on your computer, installing anti-virus protection, using firewalls, backing up data regularly, testing backups for accuracy and recovery efficiency before an attack strikes. But don’t stop there! It’s also essential that you continually review and test your backup plan, data retention policies and educate employees about how they can spot signs of ransomware. All in hopes that preparing for and responding to a ransomware attack is far less daunting and time-consuming than it needs to be. If you think this might be too much work or if it sounds complicated – don’t worry!
But what if you don’t have the time, the human resources, or experience to develop or manage an effective managed backup solution on your own? You’re a busy business owner wearing many hats already. And with so many different backup options available, where do you even start? And what about disaster recovery – are you prepared if something goes wrong?
We can help! Here at C&K Systems, we offer a managed backup strategy and other managed services and security for businesses like yours who want to be protected against ransomware attacks. Our team will work with you to create a custom plan that fits your needs and budget, then monitor your backups every day for any signs of trouble. If anything does happen, our experts will assist you in the data recovery process to ensure your business can resume in no time at all. Let us take care of the heavy lifting while you focus on running your company!