Cybersecurity threats are becoming a lot more common these days. In the first nine months of the past year, there were 2,953 publicly reported data breaches. One of the most concerning cyber security threats is ransomware.

Ransomware attacks are becoming a greater threat than ever. Between January and June 2020, these attacks cost educational institutions, private businesses and local governments over $144 million. Some of the costs are attributed to organizations paying the ransom. Other costs included restoring damage to networks and backing up data that had been lost.

Small businesses must be particularly concerned about the threat of ransomware. They must be prepared for the growing threats that cybercriminals pose as they orchestrate more ransomware attacks against growing businesses.

Why are small businesses at a high risk of ransomware attacks?

You would probably expect that the average cybercriminals would focus on targeting larger organizations. Publicly traded corporations and local municipalities obviously have deeper pockets.

However, there are also compelling reasons that they target small businesses as well. Small businesses tend to have fewer resources to allocate to cybersecurity. They are more vulnerable and their defenses against cyberattacks are easier to penetrate, which means that hackers see them as more lucrative targets, even if the payouts are lower.

Ransomware attacks are some of the biggest cybersecurity attacks that small businesses are exposed to. They must be prepared to deal with these threats, because they can be very costly. One small business ended up paying $150,000 for a ransomware attack.

What Can Small Businesses Do to Guard Against Ransomware Attacks?

There are a lot of things that small businesses can do if they want to protect themselves against ransomware attacks. Some of the precautions are common sense and easy to implement, but are still not taken by a lot of small business owners. They might be more likely to follow these guidelines if they appreciate the threat of ransomware attacks. Other guidelines are more difficult to follow, but are worth the investment if they prevent a future ransomware attack.

Some of the biggest measures to avoid ransomware attacks are listed below.

Avoid Clicking Unverified Links or Opening Attachments from Senders that You Don’t Know

Cybercriminals often embed malware in emails to orchestrate ransomware attacks. They often try to deceive people into clicking links that may lead to webpages that contain malware or download attachments that have embedded it.

Most people are aware that it is risky to open contents of untrusted email senders. However, it is still a common mistake. You should be careful about verifying the authenticity of any email before opening it.

Look Carefully at the Email Handle Before Trusting the Contents

A lot of cybercriminals will spoof emails or choose email account names that include an authentic looking email address. However, if you look at the actual email address, you will see that the real email is from a spam account.

For example, some people have received emails that appeared to be coming from [email protected], because that is the name of the account. However, the email handle itself was something like [email protected] You should need to look at the email carefully to tell.

Rely on Server Content Scanning

Server content scanning is a good way to quickly scan emails for spam and malware. This is one of the fastest ways to identify possible ransomware.

Avoid Using Public WiFi without Encrypting Your Connection

There are a lot of risks with using public Wifi connections. You should always try to encrypt your connections to be safe. One of the best ways to do this is by using a VPN or proxy.

Make Sure Malware Protection Software is Updated Regularly

Ransomware developers are constantly updating their software. You need to update your own malware protection tools to protect against the latest versions.

Rehan Ijaz is an entrepreneur, business graduate, content strategist and editor overseeing contributed content at BigdataShowcase. He is passionate about writing stuff for startups. His areas of interest include digital business strategy and strategic decision making.

Ransomware stock photo by THONGCHAI PITTAYANON/Shutterstock