ransomware

All I Want For Christmas Is… Ransomware?

Retailers are preparing for the biggest spending season of the year, and consumers are getting a head start on shopping for gifts. On top of wish lists are the latest and greatest electronic gadgets like phones, tablets, and wearable technology. Thanks to the widespread adoption of “Bring Your Own Device,” these consumer devices will likely end up in the workplace as well. This means organizations could start unwrapping some very unpleasant “gifts” – like ransomware – this holiday season.

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Below are 5 tips for business leaders and employees to ensure that unwanted malware and infections don’t enter the workplace this holiday season:

1. Register devices right away. Manufacturers are getting increasingly better at notifying customers of security vulnerabilities, and these alerts require virtually no effort on behalf of the user. Register devices to ensure the delivery of immediate and direct infection alerts, and enable users to take the appropriate action as soon as a threat appears.

2. Patch and update devices accordingly. Make sure users have the latest firmware to address any known security issues with devices. Patches and updates are released frequently as threats arise, so firmware updates should be an ongoing process.

3. Turn off unneeded features. Many devices come equipped with unnecessary apps that may open devices to risk of infection. Take a moment to look through settings and turn off any un-needed apps, especially the ones associated with network-attached storage. Disabling these features limits the opportunities for malicious ransomware to take over devices and potentially networks.

4. Utilize existing security features. Many consumers don’t realize that their device comes equipped with security features, but taking advantages of these built-in options is an important and simple way to boost security. One common built-in option gives users the ability to enable a lockout function after a number of failed password attempts. Many devices even allow control over which IP addresses are allowed configuration capabilities, and most have anti-virus built in.

5. Monitor devices. The best way to mitigate risks and prevent unwanted infections is to make a habit of monitoring devices. Performance metrics, activity logs and reports are vital tools to help detect any compromise of a device or network.

With a large number of devices expected to join networks following the holiday season, cybercriminals are ready and waiting with malware designed to take over any connected device, and open the keys to the kingdom of unsuspecting small businesses. However, users can protect themselves and their employer by taking simple security measures and realizing their role in protecting the business. Encourage employees to do their part to decrease the threat of infections this holiday season and ultimately ensure your organization is not presented with unwanted surprises as the holidays arise.

By Ian Trump, Security Consultant, LogicNow

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