Office 365 Business and Ransomware: The Lurking Threat

Frank Jorfi / February 7, 2018 /

For small to midsized businesses, Microsoft Windows-based systems remain dominant. Windows continues to be the operating system most widely used on desktops and laptops. And Microsoft Office remains the most widely used work office suite. So it’s no surprise that Windows systems remain the top target for ransomware, too.

A stunning 100% of IT professionals reported they had seen Windows systems infected by ransomware, as reported in Datto’s State of the Channel Ransomware Report. Ransomware typically encrypts your files and promises to decrypt data after a ransom payment.

The collaborative capabilities of Office 365 make ransomware defense more challenging. Before Office 365, you wrote a Word document on your laptop, saved it on your system or file server, then emailed it as an attachment to share outside your organization. Copies of your file could exist in several places: your laptop, a file storage server, your sent email, and the inbox of the recipient.

Thanks to shared files and OneDrive sync, your files may be in more places than ever. A user that shares a document with colleagues can end up with copies on multiple laptops. Each person with editing access might sync a copy to their system. When one person gets ransomware, files get encrypted — then the encrypted versions sync through to everyone else. The same is true for Sharepoint Online. As most business-critical data is created in Sharepoint Online libraries, it’s important to note that ransomware is easily spread there via the sync client.

In fact, 29% of IT professionals reported that their clients had encountered ransomware that targeted Office 365. It takes just one visit to a malicious site, one accidental download, or one infected attachment to unleash ransomware.

Ways to Reduce Ransomware Risk

Updating Often:

Keeping your operating systems, browsers, and patches up to date is key. It’s also tedious and mundane. A managed IT service provider like SSI can take care of this for your business along with a host of other services and solutions.

Email Monitoring:

Ransomware is most frequently delivered through email attachments. Too often recipients open files only to realize that they’ve been corrupted. SSI’s managed security services can implement a plan that keeps your emails clean. Backup and business continuity services also ensure that restores are available after a breach.

Backup and business continuity:

Having a reliable, robust backup and business continuity plan after a breach is crucial. After an attack, restoring to a recent, safe backup is the easiest, cheapest way to get your files back.

At SSI, we’ve teamed with our backup partner Datto to produce an eBook that goes into great detail about tactics you can take to protect yourself from Office365 ransomware attacks.

Download: Protecting Office 365 Data From Ransomware Attack

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