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Picture this – it?s a regular Tuesday, and you?re at work, in the middle of your weekly to-do list when suddenly, your screen goes dark and an image of a lock comes up.

?This machine has been locked. To unlock it, pay $500 in Bitcoin within 72 hours.?

At first you assume it?s a joke, maybe something an IT employee did as a ruse. However, as you walk through the office, you notice every one of your employee?s computers has the same message – and no one?s laughing.

This is just one of many ways a ransomware attack can occur – and they?re beginning to happen with frightening regularity.

The issue with ransomware attacks is, once a machine has been encrypted and locked down, there?s little to nothing a user can do to get their information back except pay the fine and hope the person on the other end who locked their computer has the decency to unlock it once they?re paid. That?s why preparing for a ransomware attack is becoming a critical component of cybersecurity for businesses across the globe – but as organization?s are slowing coming around, hackers are already making their mark with the attacks.

Although responding to a ransomware attack is nearly impossible, preventing one is at least an attainable goal if you know where to start.

Make Cybersecurity a Priority

One of the most effective tools in fighting any cyber-attack – especially ransomware – is the knowledge you can give your employees.

Quick, of everything in your business, what?s the easiest point of entry for a hacker? No, it?s not a wifi router, BYOD devices or some mythical ?back door? that every movie hacker seems to know about. It?s the employees and careless security practices.

Effective cybersecurity is full-team effort, and holes in the fabric of a security plan at the base employee level can be just as deadly as missing security patches or gaping security flaws in a network.

So, how do you improve cybersecurity from the employee level up? Create a cyber security response plan, and ensure everyone in your organization is trained on best practices for prevention and what to do when they think they might have been compromised. Aspects of this plan include proper password creation and management, email and link security, and how to keep personal devices secure in-and-out of work. In the end, this knowledge won?t just help keep your organization safe, but your employees personally safe too – and they?ll thank you for that.

Backups, Backups, Backups

This can?t be said enough – the most effective tool against fighting ransomware attacks is to back up your data.

Data backups, whether they?re cloud-based or onsite, should be a facet of any organization?s cybersecurity and data safety plan, but in the age of ransomware they?re even more important than ever.

Say an attack does get through and your organization?s machines are bricked by a ransomware virus. If you have an effective, daily backup routine that means the only work lost in this attack is the work done that day – which isn?t that bad. Now without backups, it could be everything you?ve ever done.

Making up a single day, or even week? Quite doable in most situations. Trying to make up the work and data archived over the entire life of your business? That?s another matter entirely.

Trust Your Local Professionals

Creating an effective cybersecurity plan – and one that can prevent dread ransomware attacks – isn?t a simple, one-step process. It?s going to involve all facets and levels of your business, ensuring proper training and updates are provided, and a keen eye to watch over all your systems to jump on an attack the moment it happens.

For many small and medium-sized businesses, that?s too much to handle alone. That doesn?t mean you have to be left in the dark, however.

Our team of certified cybersecurity experts at NENS have the skill sets and knowledge your business needs to ensure effective and up-to-date cybersecurity management and training for your staff. Plus, as a fellow local Boston-area business, our teams are readily available to help your organization improve cybersecurity now.

Contact us to learn more about our services and what we can do to help prevent your organization from becoming the next big ransomware target.