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4 Ways to Protect Your Small Business From Ransomware

Even business owners who don’t pay a lot of attention to tech trends have heard quite a bit about ransomware. It’s been in the news frequently, mainly because hackers are getting so good at writing these types of viruses that they’ve successfully extorted big money from individuals, corporations, and even hospitals.

In case you aren’t familiar with the specifics, ransomware works like this: a malicious application is loaded onto your computer (usually through a suspicious download or email attachment). Then, the software launches and freezes your computer – or even your entire network – until you send money overseas through an untraceable account.

These types of attacks get their name because they hold your data and communications up for ransom. And, the worst infections can be incredibly difficult to deal with. So, let’s take a look at what you can do to protect your small business from criminals using ransomware.

#1 Use Basic Protections Against Hackers

The first step in keeping your computers free from any kind of malicious code is using basic safeguards. These include strong firewalls, up-to-date antivirus software, and sturdy spam protection for your email. It also helps if you use strong passwords, and leave the standard security features on your operating system fully-functional. None of these will guarantee you won’t be the subject of a ransomware attack, but they do make it harder for thieves to target you.

#2 Be Careful Where You Surf, and What You Open

Even if you follow our first piece of advice, it’s easy to become the target of a ransomware scheme if you visit questionable websites, or have a habit of opening email attachments you don’t recognize. Like many viruses, ransomware applications are often hidden within other things people download, such as pirated movies, risqué photos, and items that have been made to look like business documents. Good antivirus protection can help here, but you still have to be careful about what you and your employees allow onto your computers, phones, or tablets.

#3 Back Your Drives up Frequently

Most people treat the advice to back up their files on a daily basis in the same way they do a dentist’s tip to floss each morning and night: as a good suggestion, but something they won’t get around to doing. But, when you are the victim of a ransomware attack, being able to restore your systems to a recent (but unaffected) status can make an enormous difference. Plus, running regular backups is a great way to protect your company against other types of IT disasters, as well.

#4 Get Expert Help

If these measures fail and you find yourself with computers or devices that are locked up by ransomware, do not attempt to fix the problem on your own. Instead, take the ransomed devices offline, shut them down, and make sure they can’t infect other machines on your network. Then, call our team to take the next step. We may be able to remove the virus… or at the very least, ensure it doesn’t affect you or your business more than it already has.

Ransomware is a nuisance, but given its success for hackers, you can bet it isn’t going away anytime soon. So, it’s up to business owners and managers everywhere to know how to prevent attacks and deal with them when they occur. Use these tips to avoid finding yourself in trouble.

Need an IT vendor your business can count on? Call our team today to set up a free consultation and review your technology plan.

Part 7 of 7: You Don’t Want to Move or Expand Without IT Help

Most IT disasters can’t be foreseen. In fact, what makes them disasters in the first place is that they seem to come out of nowhere. A hard drive that was working fine one day is an accessible the next; an employee scheduling platform works flawlessly one afternoon and fails to start up the following morning. Even with all the preventative care in the world, these kinds of issues pop up from time to time.

#7 You Don’t Want to Move or Expand Without IT Help

One IT crisis that you definitely can anticipate has to do with moving your operations or opening new location. When that happens, things are going to go wrong, and lots of money is going to be wasted, if you don’t have the right technology vendor on your side.

Even the smallest business is likely to have a complex set of hardware and software configurations that have been put together over time. Trying to simply unplug the mall, transport them, and put them back together again can be an impossible task for someone who isn’t used to the job. By having a good IT team there to help, you can prevent the biggest problems from occurring in the first place, and make sure the smaller ones are resolved quickly so your newer, bigger businesses ready to start turning a profit from the first day.

Moving and expanding always entail a big investment, and it can be tempting to attempted without the help of an outside IT team. But, you’ll probably end up paying for assistance one way or another, so why not make it easier and cheaper by getting the experts involved from the start?

Who is Looking Out For Your Bottom Line?

Every small business relies on technology, and yet most business owners don’t have an IT vendor they can truly trust. If you’re ready to start cutting costs and looking for ways to improve your technology performance at the same time, you need a partner who can step in and make sure you’re making the right decisions for your bottom line.

Why not call or email a member of our team today and set up a free consultation? It won’t take long, and you might be surprised at just how affordable good technology service and advice really are… not to mention what the right experts can do to keep your company running smoothly.

Part 6 of 7: Backup and Disaster Recovery is Cheap IT Insurance

As a business owner, you might take it as a given that your computers and devices are going to turn on when you press the power button, or that your most important spreadsheet files are going to open up quickly once you click on them. As IT professionals, we can tell you that’s not always the case.

#6 Backup and Disaster Recovery is Cheap IT Insurance

There any number of things that can cause your technology to stop working. Power surges and shortages can damage hardware. Hackers can break in and steal data, or a race critical records. Employees can accidentally format drives, lock themselves out of workstations, or make unintended changes to your website. Each of these calamities happens every day, and we haven’t even gotten to floods, fires, earthquakes, and tornadoes yet.

For this reason, one of the most important things you can do to protect your business is invested in backup and disaster recovery (or BDR for short). A good BDR system is secure, and expensive, and thoroughly tested. It will include offsite backup options that allow you to restore your business and technology to working condition in a matter of minutes or hours, even in the midst of a severe emergency.

Take it from us and we tell you that you really don’t want to be the kind of business owner who just assumes everything is going to be all right and work the way it’s supposed to. Technology is like anything else, and that it will eventually break and let you down. And at that moment, the decision you’ve made to have a backup plan or not could cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars… or even decide whether your company continues to exist at all.

Part 5 of 7 Managing IT Expenses - The Biggest Savings are in the Cloud

Although most business owners feel as if they’ve heard all they’ve ever wanted to know about “the cloud” and more in recent years, the fact remains that the majority aren’t realizing the cost savings they could be. They use the cloud every day, but don’t necessarily understand how it can help their bottom lines in such a profound way.

#5 The Biggest Savings are in the Cloud

There are really two things you have to know about cloud computing as a business owner. The first is that using cloud-based services eliminates the need for a lot of hardware you might have had to buy in the past. Purchasing things like servers for your business can put a huge dent in your budget, to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars at a time. But once you embrace the cloud, you can stop buying them once and for all. Renting monthly packages saves you on those up-front costs, with the added benefit of freeing up space in your office or facility.

The second thing that’s important to note about cloud computing is that it lets you use software and equipment on a monthly subscription basis. This can bring clarity to your budget, and make cash flow management that much easier. As with a managed services agreement, cloud computing takes a lot of the guesswork out of your financial forecasting, turning IT costs from a question mark into a certainty.

Some business owners are still resistant to cloud services because they don’t understand them, or are used to doing things a certain way. But, this is one area where being open to change can really make a big difference on your profit-and-loss reports. When you take away many of your biggest hardware costs, moved to a monthly subscription model, and combine those benefits with increases in performance and security, it’s hard to find a reason not to switch.