Ransomware has become one of the most notorious email-borne threats - these attacks have crippled governments around the world and consistently dominate security news headlines. Cloud systems like Office 365 and Google Workspace are unable to protect against ransomware and other dangerous attacks without effective supplementary email security defenses in place - and businesses are paying the price. The average cost of ransomware-caused downtime is now $380,000 per incident

More organizations than ever are getting hit with ransomware multiple times, often by the same type of ransomware. Many businesses make the mistake of believing that they are too small to be a viable target for ransomware when, in fact, this could not be further from the truth. Small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are frequently targeted in ransomware campaigns because attackers recognize and take advantage of the fact that these companies often have smaller security teams and tend to have limited budgets for cyber defense. Eighty-five percent of MSPs report ransomware as a common threat to SMBs, and 29% of small businesses have experience with ransomware - making them more likely to be unprepared for this threat. Data reveals that the majority of small businesses are not able to recover from an attack, and 60% of small companies go out of business within six months of getting hit with ransomware. Clearly, the time for a business of any size to say “I am not a target” has long since passed.

Another common myth is that ransomware attacks are inevitable. In reality, the serious, persistent threat that ransomware poses to all businesses can be mitigated by implementing proactive, multi-layered email security defenses and by engaging in the security best practices outlined in this article.

What is Ransomware and How Does It Work?

Ransomware is a type of malware designed to block access to a computer system until specified ransom (in the form of untraceable Bitcoin) is paid. This malicious software encrypts a victim’s files until he or she has made the payment demanded by the attacker.

Sixty-seven percent of ransomware infections in North America can be attributed to phishing emails. When a user downloads a malicious attachment within a phishing email containing ransomware, all of the user’s files are encrypted and made inaccessible until the ransom specified in a message presented to the user is paid. 

Don’t Be the Next Headline! 

When it comes to ransomware, prevention is far better than remediation. No business can afford to suffer the consequences of a ransomware attack due to an ineffective email security strategy. While it is not always possible to prevent a successful attack, practicing sound security habits and investing in effective supplementary email protection to safeguard the cloud mailbox against phishing, ransomware and other threats can drastically reduce your risk. Some tips and best practices for preventing a ransomware attack include:

Best Practices for Preventing a Ransomware Attack:

  • Think before you click! Make sure you have confirmed the legitimacy of an email before downloading any attachments it contains.
  • Make sure your OS is patched and updated - this reduces the chance of vulnerabilities existing that cyber criminals could exploit.
  • Back up your files frequently and automatically and protect the back-ups you create. This won’t prevent a ransomware attack, but it can reduce the damage caused by one. Be aware that backups are not foolproof: ransomware may sit idle for weeks until it is triggered, potentially destroying backups.
  • Invest in an effective, multi-layered email security solution that provides real-time protection against malicious URLs and attachments such as those containing ransomware, preventing these malicious emails from being delivered to the end user.

Want more insight into the email risk your company faces? Want to better understand how you protect against ransomware? Take a free 2-minute assessment survey to learn the magnitude of your email risk and get expert advice on how to reduce it. Assess My Email Risk Now>

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