The Ransomware Threat to Small Business

Today’s Wall Street Journal article, ‘Ransomware’ a Growing Threat to Small Businesses, is a great synopsis of the threat organized and skilled cyber criminals pose to small businesses every day.  Many small businesses run without any sort of spam, virus or malware protection so they make easy and attractive targets for criminals looking to make an easy buck (or bitcoin).

At MxToolbox, we see this issue arise daily.  Small businesses contact us because they are on a blacklist only to discover that it was a malware infection caused by malware from spam or an infection caused by following a spammy link.  Ransomware attacks start in exactly the same way, a spam email with a legitimate looking website or an attachment.  All it takes is an errant click or opening the wrong attachment and you’re infected and your business grinds to a halt.  Recovery can take you hundreds of dollars or dozens of hours, whether you pay or recover from a backup.

Do you have an offsite backup?

Most small businesses don’t.  Our first recommendation for your small business to survive a ransomware threat, a fire, a tornado or any business continuity issue is to immediately invest in a cloud-based or other type of offsite backup, and backup your entire business.  This will protect against these large issues but also against simple accidents that could harm your business.  Have you ever deleted a file and immediately wished you hadn’t cleaned your Recycle Bin?

Protect your email

If you are running your own email system, you need to protect it.  We highly recommend some sort of comprehensive spam, virus and malware protection on your servers.  Basic spam filtering isn’t enough and will not capture the zero-day outbreak type malware or attachments that are used by ransomware attacks.  You need to filter for malware and viruses as well.

Protect your team from malicious links

This one is a little harder.  Spam email, especially with zero-day outbreak attacks, can include links to sites that are neutral at the time the email is sent, but activated shortly after to become malicious.  This type of attack is very difficult to protect against and often uses phishing style emails that look completely legitimate.  Exploits like ransomware get you to click on these links and download software to infect your systems.  New technologies can protect you from these types of seemingly normal, but malicious links.

MxToolbox Solution

At MxToolbox, we offer comprehensive email security solutions

  • Email Protection + Continuity provides inbound and outbound mail filtering to ward off spam, malware and other email-based attacks.  Outbound filtering means that even should your servers be compromised, spam will not be passed on to your customers.  With Continuity, should your email go down, your users will still have access to send and receive email while you work the issue.

  • Total Security includes everything from Email Protection + Continuity but adds in DNS and URL filtering of websites, both of on-premise and mobile devices.  With Total Security, your users are protected even if they click on links that download ransomware, botnets or malware and also protected from botnets reaching out to host servers to start the encryption process.

Note:  As of Monday, April 20th, PBS has another article on Ransomware.