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wannacry ransomware prevention
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3 Critical Steps You MUST Take To Avoid WannaCry And Ransomware Like It

Last month the world was hit by one of the largest cyber security attacks in history- affecting more than 200,000 organizations in 150 countries. WannaCry ransomware, the perpetrator of this attack, took advantage of outdated patches and software licenses. Infected computers and business owners risked losing critical data if they didn’t pay the ransom.

ransomware lock screen

As cyber security & prevention experts, we are happy to report that not a single client of Andromeda Technology Solutions was affected by this attack because of our security protocols and procedures. The same can’t be said for Cook County.

Industry experts predict that this ransomware attack will hit again. Tech experts remain unsure how the new approach might be deployed – in a similar fashion or with a new “2.0” virus. While the specifics of future cyber security attacks are uncertain, we know some things for sure. Proper protocol is CRITICAL for data security and the safety of your business.

Ransomware: The Numbers **

  • Almost 50% of Small Businesses have experienced some form of cyber attack
  • MORE than 70% of attacks target Small Business
  • As many as 60% of small businesses that experience a data breach go out of business within 6 months.

These numbers are scary. Cyber security demands the attention of business owners globally and the efforts of hackers/cyber criminals are only increasing. These criminals want your money and they don’t care about the damage left behind.

That being said, there is hope and there are measures you can take to prevent your business from becoming a victim of ransomware.

3 Security Protocols You MUST Implement Immediately For The Safety Of Your Data, Your Business AND Your Wallet . . .

  1. Update ALL Microsoft Licenses to Windows 7 At A Minimum & Maintain Up To Date Security Patching – Cyber criminals are no dummies. WannaCry and other viruses like it take advantage of out of date licenses. Too often, business owners sacrifice the security of their network because they don’t want to go through the grief of updating to the latest Microsoft License. Andromeda recommends updating ALL PC’s to Windows 7 at a minimum and, more importantly, make sure you perform regular patch and security updates.
  2. Test & Verify ALL Data Backups – When is the last time you tested and verified your backups? Are you backing up your data at all? How long would it take your current IT provider to get you back up in running in the event of a disaster (virtualization time)? It is a FACT . . . you will be hit by some form of ransomware, malware or virus. The real question becomes, do you have the protocols in place to defend and beat the attack? One of the most important things you can do to safeguard yourself is perform regular backups. (We recommend daily at a minimum). A cybercriminal can’t hold your data hostage if you follow this simple practice. AND – don’t accept a verbal confirmation your data continuously remains backed up as proof. Your IT partner should provide you regular, real time, proof that your data is backed up securely and that it can be visualized in an agreed upon length of time. If your IT provider can’t give these stats and proofs to you, time to find a new partner.
  3. ransomware phishing emailEducate Your Team On How These Attacks Work And Where They Come From – Every office has that one employee that will click on ANYTHING (hopefully it isn’t you). Continued education is one of the first lines of defense against these attacks. Employees should know:
    1. What to look out for
    2. What phishing scams look like
    3. What to do when they suspect an email or link is suspect
    4. NEVER to check personal email at work
    5. Etc.

Proper spam filters set by your IT group should prevent the majority of these emails from getting to your inbox. However, it only takes ONE CLICK and an entire network is infected before you know what happened.

Ransomware Prevention constantly changing, be sure to stay on top of newest trends

When all is said and done, cyber security is an everyday battle. Hackers and criminals will keep attacking until you don’t have something they want. These 3 Security protocols are only the tip of the iceberg and should be part of a multiphase approach implemented by your internal staff and your IT partner. If you have any questions, please reach out to a representative at Andromeda today.

If you’ve found this article on ransomware prevention interesting, you might also want to consider attending our upcoming Executive Lunch & Learn Seminar.

**Statistics sourced from the National Cyber Security Alliance

network security assessment - IT cyber secuirty
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Network Security Assessment – The Single Most Important Cyber Security Tool You Are Neglecting Every Year

Why you should have a network security assessment at least once per year

Let’s face it – our digital world is under constant attack and your corporate network is one of the biggest targets out there.  Why?  Because it also tends to be an easy mark.  Year after year we see large scale attacks against corporations, but did you know that the majority of cyber incidents occur against small business? Ask yourself, when was the last time you had a professional network security assessment? We’d like to share why assessments are an important piece of the multi-layered approach to cyber security for your business.

Let’s start by stating something that you might not expect a tech company to express.  At some point, your network and computer systems WILL BE breached by some type of cyber attack.  No amount of effort or software can protect you 100%.  The key is to take as many steps as you can to make it less likely you will be hacked or more realistically, take as many steps to ensure that a breach can do no real or sustainable harm to your business. No approach on the market can guarantee you will never be breached and if you run into an IT firm or product that tries to make this guarantee . . . run for the hills because it just “ain’t” true.

Now, there are the obvious steps that you can take to protect yourself and make it harder on the criminals:

  • good Email habits
  • anti-malware software
  • firewalls
  • employee training
  • a professional Disaster Recover (DR) plan/device

However, there is another tool in the arsenal that you should use regularly and that is an annual (at minimum) Network Security Assessment.

How Is A Network Security Assessment Done?

Your IT support company can do an assessment; they should then give you a risk report displaying areas that need to be tightened up.  If your IT company does not perform these, it may be time to start looking into someone new. Cyber threats are more prevalent every day and it is important to partner with an IT company that recognizes this and protects your business accordingly.

We find that our assessment usually uncovers security threats and holes; even when a business has the right practices and has done their research. Cyber security is a daily battle. When we run our assessment we use the results to constantly improve the defenses of our clients. And that is why, like most things in tech, an assessment should be a regular event.

The Network Security Assessment Is Done. What’s Next?

The network security assessment itself is not the only thing to request though. It is equally important to make sure that your firm supplies you with a report of their findings. This report should be simple to understand, contain an overall score and give you a breakdown of each issue found, along with how serious those specific issues are.  Ask for an action plan detailing fixes for any issues that are found. Why go through the assessment if you aren’t going to DO anything with the data?

How important and helpful are these reports?  We are an IT company with a background protecting our partners from risk, we place protections in place for our partners and still find ways to improve our customer cyber safety every time we run an assessment.

Why?  Because cyber security is a dynamic, ever changing landscape and you need to proactively search for issues. Don’t let yourself learn the hard way. You never want to discover there is a hole in your cyber security by way of an attack or breach.

Interested in a Network Security Assessment?

If this article has you questioning your current setup, or if you are simply interested in starting a conversation regarding the cyber security protections necessary for your business, a network security assessment with Andromeda is a great place to start. With this in mind, we will be discounting our network security assessment thru 05/31/17. Fill out the form below for access to our promotional rate and begin a discussion with one of our security experts.

Fill out the form below to receive a $500 discount on a Network Security Assessment valid for the month of May