How to protect against ransomware

The old days of being held at ransom are over. In today’s technological world, cyber criminals are making huge profits by holding business’ data hostage in exchange for exuberant amounts of money. If you’re a business that can’t operate without its data (and can’t afford to lose it for even a short window of time), we advise that you take steps to ensure your cyber-security. Here are some measures you can take to reduce your risk and improve your data security.

Beware of phisher-men

Always, always, always be on high-alert for suspicious emails and links. Phishers are no longer the clumsy ‘Nigerian princes’ of yesteryear. They’re sophisticated and easy to fall for—especially if you’re time poor, which, let’s face it, we all are. Professional phishers can impersonate colleagues, staff, even the CEO of an organisation. They’ll spam you with suspicious links or untrustworthy malware. If you stumble across any strange links, emails or attachments, trust your gut and say no.

Better still, you can invest in phishing training workshops or data security tests with your employees. With a bit of know-how, you can teach your staff to be less click-happy and more click-savvy.

Keep your software up-to-date

  • Some easy ways to be more protected against an attack include:
  • Updating and patching Windows
  • Updating your applications
  • Using a current version of Windows that is still supported by Microsoft (versions like Windows XP or Windows Server 2003 no longer receive support or updates, making them an easy target for ransomware)
  • Having a firewall that has been properly installed with security settings correctly configured
  • Having an up-to-date and good quality anti-virus product

Whenever a third-party platform updates their software, the update notes contain information about the gaps and insecurities that existed in the old product. These notes are a goldmine for hackers and, if you don’t update your software quickly, can leave you hugely susceptible to an attack.

Our advice? Invest in trusted security patches and always update them as soon as a newer version is available. The same goes for plugins like Adobe Flash and Java, too.

Quarantine infections

If you’re alerted to a potential infection, the best thing you can do is to disconnect from your server before the virus spreads. It may seem inconvenient, but so is losing the rest of your data. Disconnecting early can save you from critical harm later down the line. That means turning off WiFi, Bluetooth and unplugging storage systems like USB sticks and external hard drives. By isolating the computer that has been attacked, you can prevent the ransomware from spreading and—hopefully—save your data in the process.

Have a back-up plan

If the above techniques don’t work, and you find your data locked up in the hands of attackers, the best plan is to have a daily back-up of your data. That way you won’t find yourself entirely in the lurch, and can rely on a recent copy of your critical information. Remember, hackers are likely to access your data remotely, so keep your back-up securely stored off your online servers and away from your desktop systems.


For more information about upgrading to secure servers with expert IT support, contact IT Switch today. Our expert team can support you through any crisis—and prevent disaster from striking in the first place.