How to Prevent a Ransomware Attack on Your Business

Hackers don’t care about your business. They care about the money or data they can steal from you, but they don’t care about whether you can make payroll next month or if your hard-earned research is in the wrong hands. 

Hackers are also crafty. Their techniques get trickier all of the time, and they’re quite good at exploiting weaknesses in your IT infrastructure and your staff.

The best way to prevent ransomware attacks is to arm yourself with knowledge and find a solid, reputable partner in your fight.

What is a Ransomware Attack?

Ransomware holds your information for ransom. It’s software that hackers sneak onto your systems that encrypt your files, applications, and even entire databases so that you can’t access them. You then receive a message demanding a ransom payment before you can access your data. 

Remember the Colonial Pipeline shutdown that caused gas prices to rise and lines at filling stations to stretch around the block? That was due to a ransomware attack. The worst part of the story is that the company ended up paying the hackers’ ransom!

How Vulnerable Am I to Ransomware Attacks?

Businesses affected by ransomware usually share a few common elements that leave them exposed:

  • Outdated computer systems
  • Older versions of software
  • Insufficient backups (or no backups at all)
  • Unpatched web browsers or operating systems
  • Untrained staff that hackers could exploit

In general, the more computers you rely on, the more vulnerable you are to an attack. 

Start With Training Employees

The first step in preventing a ransomware virus from reaching your company’s sensitive data is to teach your staff how to recognize warning signs. Rules for your team should include:

Never Open Suspicious Emails

Even the text within an email can contain code that will infect a workstation. If the name looks strange, there’s a reason. Don’t click on links in unfamiliar emails, and certainly don’t download attachments from unknown email addresses.

Never Disclose Personal Details

Passwords, usernames, and other personal data should only get shared between trusted individuals. If a message claims to be from a team member, have employees reach out to that team member via phone or in-person before sharing any information.

Never Use Discarded Thumb Drives

A harmless-looking USB drive sitting out in the open may have been left behind by a hacker trying to spread a ransomware virus. It can infect a computer as soon as it’s inserted. 

Never Use Public WiFi Without a VPN 

Hackers can hijack WiFi signals to sneak into users’ phones. Investing in a business VPN is a great way to ensure compliance with this rule. 

Social engineering hacks, such as those described above, are integral to 98% of cyberattacks. Improving your employees’ defensive strategies alone will be a huge barrier to hackers.

Guarding Your IT Infrastructure

Once your employees are on board with the proper techniques, you can turn your attention to your computer network. Your business should:


Software, hardware, or anything else that’s out of date needs to go. This mandate doesn’t necessarily mean that a piece of software your employees have been using for ten years needs to get deleted. If your software is still supported by the company that made it, it should be fine if you keep it patched. 

Operating systems, browsers, email clients, and specialist software all need to stay current because hackers get to know these programs and learn to exploit their weaknesses. If your computers are too old to run modern software, it’s time to upgrade.

Make Backups 

You should have a remote, secure location for backing up all of your data. If ransomware comes in and encrypts your files, you should be ready with the backup, so there’s no downtime.

Install SPAM Filters

Many malicious emails will get filtered out with this simple step, and your employees will never even see them.

Restrict Personal Device Connections 

Don’t let employees connect their smartphones to their work computers. 

Use Ad-Blockers

Not only are pop-up ads annoying, but they can deliver nefarious code to your system if an employee goes to the wrong website by mistake. Ad-blockers prevent this and also increase productivity. 

Install Anti-Ransomware Software

Having the right software that can recognize, root out, and destroy ransomware can save a business. Ransomware removal relies on software that’s up to date, just like the rest of your company’s software and hardware, so update regularly. 

The software you buy should integrate properly with your IT infrastructure. If it causes computers to slow down or crash, there may be an incompatibility. This incompatibility isn’t necessarily a disaster; sometimes, it takes an IT professional to optimize the software.

Hire a Managed IT Services Provider like AxioTech Solutions

Having a team you can trust to keep you safe changes the game in your favor. The professionals at AxioTech Solutions know how to design, create, and defend a network from hackers. If you’re exposed, get protected. Contact AxioTech Solutions today, and we’ll show you the way.