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How to Reduce the Risk of a Ransomware Attack

Every day we hear of new ransomware incidents impacting Canadian businesses. Earlier this month we learned that the Alberta Dental Service Corporation fell victim to a ransomware attack from May to July which compromised the personal information of nearly 1.5 million Albertans — which included the banking details of 7,300 seniors. Even though ransomware is a very real threat costing businesses globally hundreds of millions of dollars each year, too many business leaders fail to recognize the importance in investing in a multi-layered cybersecurity strategy. In this blog post, we’ll provide a simple summary of ransomware and outline a few ways businesses can reduce the impact of a successful attack.  
What is Ransomware? 
Ransomware is malicious software designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid, thus holding your system for “ransom.” The majority of ransomware attacks are introduced through self-initiated actions such as clicking on a malicious link in an email or visiting a compromised website. Ransomware scans your computer’s file system and “encrypts” your data, potentially rendering your device useless. Once encrypted, your data is essentially locked until a sum of money is paid to unlock it. Hackers often demand payment through digital currencies like Bitcoin because it’s much harder to track compared to traditional payment methods. Once payment is made some hackers will release your data, however this is not always the case, as hackers don’t have rules to play by and cannot be trusted. 

In a 2022 Canadian ransomware study by TELUS, 83 per cent of 450 Canadian businesses surveyed said they had experienced a ransomware attack, and only 42 per cent of those said their data was returned to them after a ransom was paid.

How to Reduce the Risk of a Ransomware Attack 
We often hear cybersecurity and other IT professionals say that experiencing a cyber incident is inevitable; it’s not a matter of if but when. Being prepared is any businesses best defense and that means investing in a multi-layered cybersecurity plan. Here’s some of the most important ways a business can reduce the impact of a ransomware attack. 
Recovery Plan: A recovery plan serves as a guide in the event of a ransomware attack. It includes the right processes, procedures and personnel that need to be involved when dealing with a ransomware attack. Part of this plan should include practicing it. Don’t make the first time your organization experiences a ransomware attack be during a live event. 
Managed Backup: With a reliable, fast backup in place, businesses can minimize the likelihood of being forced to pay a ransom.  


Respond Immediately: The quicker you can share information, the quicker your organization may be able to defend against a ransomware attack. Notify your IT department or appropriate team members immediately if you believe you have been targeted. 

Security Awareness Training: Protect your business by investing in ongoing employee training and email phishing simulation campaigns.  

Practice Good Cyber Hygiene: Having an educated team that knows how to identify the latest threats is one aspect of strengthening your security posture but good cyber hygiene also includes avoiding opening unsolicited attachments from unknown senders, clicking suspicious links, and only using authorized and approved software.  

Managed Security: Security technology is another crucial layer of a cybersecurity plan. Advanced ransomware detection should be deployed on all servers and workstations and include early threat warning, disabling of a ransomware launch, automated monitoring and alerts, data loss protection, lockdown policies (disabling of USB ports) and more. At a high-level, as a client of Nucleus you have multiple layers of defense protecting you from malicious attacks:   

  • Managed SentinelOne XDR (Next generation antivirus, Extended Detection & Response)  
  • Cloud gateway security  
  • Ransomware detection + prevention  
  • 24x7 Security Operations Center (SOC) 

If your business is concerned about your ability to defend against a ransomware attack or recover from one, reach out to us. Learn more about our Managed Security Services at: 

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