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How businesses can protect Office 365 from ransomware attacks

By Andrew Tang, Service Director, Security at MTI Technology - 3 November 2016

In the last year, businesses have seen a large increase in ransomware threats. The Guardian recently reported that 54 per cent of businesses have been threatened with ransomware in the last 12 months alone. When we consider the money that can be made from a career in cyber crime, this is hardly surprising.

Ransomware refers to malicious software (malware) which is designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid.

But how can you protect your cloud environments from it? In a recent webinar, Chris Taylor, Director of Product Marketing, Trend Micro, looked at exactly that:

How does malware work?

Email is a common method that attackers will use to infect their victims, most often businesses. The malware is embedded in an email either in the form of a web link in the body of the text, which vulnerable users click on or a link within the attachment.

It is becoming increasingly more common for malware to be laced within documents in email attachments. Embedded JavaScript within the text encourages users to unknowingly click, starting the download of malicious software. It can be more difficult to detect the malware via the email attachment as it could be compressed within a common office file, such as a CV from a job-hunter, or an invoice, which seem convincing.

Prevention is better than cure

There are a number of recommendations that can be made, such as always back up your system, make sure it’s fully patched and train users not to open suspicious attachments. However, there are opportunities to stop many ransomware attacks before it even gets to that point. The best way is to block ransomware before it has a chance to reach users. There are certainly fix measures that can come in and save the day should the worst happen, but this can take up a lot of the IT team’s time.

What can businesses do to protect their Office 365 environment?

Office 365 includes anti-spam and anti-malware protection, which block every known malware. But the majority of malware is unknown, as criminals are increasingly using automated tools to change their malware, to beat the system.

In order to remain one step ahead from threats, businesses can implement advanced threat protection, which looks for malware in different ways, malicious URLs in attachments as well as the body of emails, and full data loss protection.

To set up a free evaluation of your Office 365 protection, email ukmarketing@mti.com

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