Earlier this month, leading website management platform FinalSite was hit by a major ransomware attack, causing major headaches for students, teachers, and administrators attempting to browse common webpages and send out important email updates. Thankfully, law professionals and IT experts tackling the incident claim there is no evidence of any private information theft.
Although this ransomware attack was managed before evolving into a disastrous situation, it is yet another serious reminder of the rising number of threats in the digital landscape. The situation has become so serious that Connecticut's Attorney General William Tong recently issued an official warning to citizens, urging them to practice safe habits when using connected digital resources.
“No business or government entity is immune from a ransomware attack,” commented AG Tong in an official press release. “Regardless of size, or whether you are in the public or private sector, there are measures we all can and must take to protect consumer data, privacy, and our critical infrastructure.”
AG Tong makes a very important point about how organizations of every size can be targeted by ransomware. Logically, one might think large scale companies would be more valuable targets for these types of attacks, due to having more valuable data and financial resources. But these companies have the financial and technical resources to not only prevent ransomware from gaining access,as well as the means to recover in the event of a successful attack. This puts smaller companies in the crosshairs, as hackers know their chances for success are monumentally higher, even if the financial potential is much smaller.
Keeping this in mind, smaller organizations need to step up their game to avoid becoming another victim. Integrating advanced security solutions and investing in managed services are surefire ways to avoid ransomware and other digital threats, but common sense security measures should never be dismissed. Keep the following tips in mind to ensure your organization and employees avoid falling victim to a ransomware attack:
- Use multifactor authentication for password-protected accounts and platforms.
- Avoid using the same password for frequently used programs, and use complex passwords with numbers and symbols to prevent hackers from guessing.
- Backup ALL DATA SOURCES. Valuable data should always have multiple copies stored outside of the network to avoid giving hackers leverage for ransom.
- Ensure all frequently used digital programs are updated, to prevent hackers from exploiting vulnerabilities.
- Stay up to date with tech news;social media and forums are an excellent way to stay in the loop about ongoing threats, giving IT departments a head start to halt a potential attack.
- NEVER click on suspicious links. Work can often be hectic, and often employees will click on links without thinking twice. Only click on links from verified sources, as they are commonly used to install viruses or malicious programs.
- Consistently remind employees of the importance of proper security practices. Sending out emails once every six months may not be enough to drive the point home. Consider sending weekly reminders about the importance of security, and remind employees to practice good habits during weekly meetings.
Ransomware attacks won’t be slowing down anytime soon. But any organization, regardless of size, can make sure they avoid falling into a FinalSite situation. Take advantage of the wide range of cybersecurity offerings available to keep your organization safe, and keep up with commonsense security practices to avoid new traps.
Edited by Maurice Nagle