For SMB's, Windows and Microsoft based systems remain the dominant choice. Windows continues to be the OS most widely used on desktops and laptops and Microsoft Office remains the most widely used work office suite. So it’s no surprise that Windows systems remain the top target for Ransomware. Before Office 365, you wrote a Word document on your laptop, saved it on your system or file server, then emailed it as an attachment to share outside your organization. Copies of your file could exist in several places: your laptop, a file storage server, your sent email, and the inbox of the recipient. The collaborative capabilities of Office 365 make ransomware defense more challenging thanks to shared files and OneDrive sync.
A stunning 100% of IT professionals reported they had seen Windows systems infected by ransomware, as reported in Datto’s State of the Channel Ransomware Report. The following strategies and tactics will help reduce your ransomware risk, protect your networks and devices, and ultimately help you recover your data when a ransomware event occurs.
Update to Reduce Risks
The War on Ransomware's second line of defense is Security and that begins with an up-to-date operating system, an up-to-date browser, and up-to-date patches.
For a single user, that’s relatively easy to achieve but businesses must manage a large number of devices. While tools exist to help upgrade, update and patch systems at scale, too often administrators leave things alone. In the real world we see out-of-date, unpatched software more than necessary. So review the following items to reduce your ransomware risk wherever possible.
Microsoft system requirements list Windows 7 Service Pack 1 as the oldest desktop operating system suggested for Office 365. Remember, though, that Microsoft first
released Windows 7 in 2009, and that mainstream support for it ended in January 2015.
Run Windows 10 to reduce your ransomware risk. Microsoft found that “devices running Windows 10 are 58% less likely to encounter ransomware than when running Windows 7” in a “Ransomware Protection in Windows 10 Anniversary Update” report.
Microsoft built Office 365 to work with a variety of browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, and Safari, as well as Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge. If you deploy Chrome, Firefox, or Safari in your environment, make sure these stay current, as well. Google updates Chrome about every six weeks, while Mozilla releases a new version of Firefox roughly every six to eight weeks. A once or twice-a-year browser deployment leaves people needlessly vulnerable to known and patched problems.
Finally, while it may seems obvious, apply patches promptly. Ransomware and other malware pursue multiple paths around defenses—so it’s not enough to just update to devices monthly. An unpatched laptop that connects to your network, servers, or OneDrive today, may deliver malicious code to encrypt every file it can find tomorrow. So patch promptly.
Ensure there is a line of defense between you and the web. A reliable, corporate grade security solution is a must. There are a plethora of security software options and when choosing just one, there are a number of must have features to look for:
- Real-time scanning: All antivirus software is designed specifically to detect malware; just not all in the same way. Higher grade antivirus software have dynamic scanning features that are repeatedly checking your pc for malicious files.
- Automatic Updates: Although no substitute for regularly checking for updates manually, built in automatic updates add an extra layer of assurance.
- Protection for Multiple Apps: From email clients to instant messenger platforms and certainly internet browsers, harmful software can sneak into your system from a variety of different sources. Antivirus programs need to protect multiple vulnerable apps from potential dangers, otherwise you’re leaving your hardware dangerously exposed.
- Auto-Clean: If the antivirus software immediately detects malicious software, why wouldn’t it delete the code on the spot? Since there’s no reason to leave potentially harmful software on your system, you should choose a program that utilizes an auto-clean feature to rid itself of viruses.
- Fights Against All Types of Malware: Between trojans, bots, spyware, viruses, etc., there are many different types of malware that can harm your computer, and antivirus programs are sometimes designed only to target a specific type of software. It’s better to go with a program that can comprehensively detect all or almost all of the various forms that malware takes.
If you are unsure about your antivirus options, it's best to ask your IT manager or IT provider for help.
NQBE have launched war on ransomware and are dedicated to protecting SMB's against the ransomware threat and stopping the epidemic. If you are interested in learning more or joining the fight along with many other SMB's, visit our war on ransomware page.