Ransomware Attacks – What Do I Do?

We’re a little over two weeks into the new year, and already we’ve seen some high-profile ransomware attacks taking place across the globe.

The most well known and publicised one of January 2020 is the ransomware attack that affected the foreign currency exchange organisation, Travelex. However, a US Maritime base also suffered an attack at the start of the year, which forced its services to go offline for more than a day.

15 days into the new year, and these are only the attacks we’ve heard about, and that have been attributed to a ransomware attack. But what precautions can you take to protect your business from a ransomware attack?

What can I do to protect my organisation from a ransomware attack?

Here are some steps you can take to prevent your organisation from falling foul of a ransomware attack:

  • Encourage your employees to change their passwords regularly – this prevents hackers from gaining remote access to your systems
  • Store and dispose of data securely – you never know if or when important documents or old storage devices could fall into the wrong hands
  • Staff training – this could be on spotting the signs of phishing emails, but also enabling employees to take part in social engineering training which would allow you to test your resilience against a cyber attack
  • Ensure your anti-virus software is up-to-date, and ensure your software regularly scans your systems to check for any viruses

What should I do if my business is hit by a ransomware attack?

In the first instance the advice is not to panic.

Take a moment to take stock, then try to take control of the situation as best you can. For Travelex this meant taking their systems offline, to contain the attack.

Although the attack compromised Travelex’s online systems, they were still able to conduct business face-to-face in their branches by completing transactions manually using pen and paper.

A manufacturing company, also had to resort to taking all of its systems offline, and return to old fashioned methods of manufacturing as a result of a ransomware attack. So no matter the size of the business, taking a moment to take stock always seems to be the best advice.

Communicating to your stakeholders, employees, clients and where necessary the general public, will demonstrate that you can be trusted, and you’re not trying to hide the fact this has happened to you. It may be worthwhile hiring a PR agency that can help manage this aspect for you, if you don’t have the capabilities in-house.

Don’t pay the ransom demanded by the cyber criminals. Travelex faced a threat of pay up or the criminals would have released personal data into the public domain, but this didn’t force the company’s hand. They continued to work behind the scenes, restoring their systems.

By bowing to the criminals demands it would demonstrate that the company is an easy target for criminals and may encourage them to come back and try the same tactic for a second, third and perhaps fourth time if any attach had been successful.

Chat to your IT team, local police force or Action Fraud who will be able to offer you advice.