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07/07/2017

On the Menu: Ransomware

Companies in the hospitality industry of all shapes and sizes should be prepared for ransomware attacks, from hotels and restaurants to theme parks and cruise ships. If you’re not already familiar, ransomware is a type of cybercrime that is becoming increasingly popular around the world. It can infiltrate virtually any kind of device — desktop, server, smartphone, etc. — and hold the data of entire organizations hostage.
 
A frequent misconception is that these types of attacks only affect global corporations with highly confidential, sought-after data. This assumption is not only wrong, it can be deadly for business. No organization or individual is 100% guaranteed to be protected.
 
The key to preventing ransomware attacks is to take a multi-layered approach to security that is proactive. A big challenge that companies face in implementing a successful security strategy, however, is limited resources to invest in the best solutions. Large corporations usually have ample budgets and manpower to create end-to-end, custom-made security protocols. Most other companies, though, will find it incredibly costly and inefficient to achieve the same standard of protection using traditional methods.
 
Luckily, a more efficient and cost-effective way is emerging for small- and medium-sized businesses to address security issues: IT as a Service, otherwise referred to as ITaaS. ITaaS bundles together all of the necessary preventative measures, plus real-time monitoring, and sophisticated backup and disaster recovery solutions you need. This article from Nerdio, will discuss a few examples of the kinds of features ITaaS can provide to bolster your security.
 
Two critical components of defense are spam and virus filtering. You’ll want to make sure that your anti-spam and anti-malware software is kept up-to-date, so you can proactively avoid introducing common threats to your IT environment by blocking harmful emails before they hit your inboxes. An ITaaS solution can automatically keep these updated, so you don’t have to do so manually, as well as scan both your user desktops and mail servers in real-time.
 
Speaking of automatic updates, did you know outdated versions of your company’s applications can pose security risks? This includes everything from the Microsoft Suite to Adobe and more. Unmaintained software is, in fact, a major point of vulnerability for organizations. ITaaS can help to automatically upgrade and update your applications when new patches are available. This helps protect you against known vulnerabilities that act as “common suspects” in the world of malware. In addition, ITaaS gives you an easy way to implement a firewall strategy to protect your data center if it includes a gateway anti-virus solution to scan incoming network packets.
 
Beyond these components, you may not realize that your employees represent the primary preventive measure in a successful security protocol, as they act as a critical point of entry for cybercrime incidents on a day-to-day basis.  If you’re a tech-savvy hotel, for instance, you likely have a number of interconnected systems that can open up a whole world of vulnerabilities. Your staff should understand the precise risks involved for everything from guest WiFi networks to smartphone key cards to — yes — even something as rudimentary as email.
 
Improper or inadequate training can lead to poor decision making and bad judgment calls. You should ensure your staff remains informed and up-to-date about identifying suspicious messages, and how they should proceed if they’re not confident in their assessment. This kind of training can’t be successfully accomplished as a one-off crash course; you should schedule regular intervals for refreshers and updates, such as a minimum of twice per year.
 
Don’t let your business pay the price for incomplete or outdated security measures! Easy-to-use, comprehensive solutions are more accessible than you might think. They’ll give you greater peace of mind, help your business run better, and minimize the time-and-money impact of IT disruptions.