Familiar With Ransomware?


Ransomware is now considered a fact of life in today’s cybersecurity landscape, but that doesn’t mean small and medium businesses (SMBs) are protecting themselves from a potential ransomware attack or even consider it a possibility.

Often, users recognize a ransomware threat after it’s too late. According to the Verizon 2015 Data Breach Investigations Report, 23 percent of SMBs that receive phishing emails open them, and 11 percent click on the attachment. 

And those types of mistakes can be costly. According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, ransomware victims reported more than $18 million in losses between April 2014 and June 2015, with ransoms ranging from $200 to $10,000.

SMBs need to start protecting themselves from the growing threat of ransomware. Educating your employees about the threat of ransomware and sharing these important tips is an important first step.

1. Put technical safeguards in place
As a best practice, have an intrusion-prevention system and security software running on your computers. This should include antivirus software, malware scanners, firewalls, and spam filters. Then, make sure all security patches are up to date, and deploy new patches on a regularly scheduled basis.

It’s also critical to have a backup solution in place and frequently test the backups running on your systems to make sure they’re working properly. If you’re hit with ransomware, you’ll want to restore operations as quickly as possible, and having a recent backup to recover from will save you both time and money.

2. Train employees
Even with technical safeguards in place, it’s employees who ultimately risk exposing a business to ransomware. User error, such as clicking on an infected online advertisement, pop-up window, or attachment in a spam email, is often to blame for inviting ransomware into a computer. So, users are the most important line of defense.

Talk with your employees about ransomware, educating them on what it is and how they can help defend the business. Try getting the whole staff together for a training session and bring lunch to make it a Lunch and Learn event.

As a best practice, you should require all new employees to complete the training and offer it on an ongoing basis to avoid information being missed. If you don’t have the resources to put this type of training together, talk to your Cybersecurity services provider who could run a program like this for you or provide educational materials.

3. Provide examples to end users
The most effective way to educate your employees on ransomware is to show them examples of what it looks like  ( so they’ll know the warning signs and be able to identify a suspicious message or attachment before they click on anything. For example, you can share the Dell Security phishing quiz (, which includes examples of infected and legitimate emails and provides explanation of how to tell the difference.

Once ransomware has infected a computer, a message is displayed on the screen letting the user know their machine has been compromised. Check out some examples of these types of message by clicking here. It’s helpful to share this type of information with employees as well so that, even if it’s too late, they’ll know to alert management and ask for help.


Mr. Tomas Santos-Alejandro is President of Advent Services, a locally-owned Cybersecurity and Managed Security Services company. He can be reached at or (850) 441-2915. For more information about Advent’s services visit