cybersecurity solutions birmingham

The Plain English Guide to: Ransomware

Ransomware is emerging as one of the most effective – and destructive – types of malware circulating today. This is what you need to know.

What is ransomware?

At the most basic level it is a malicious application that is designed to stop your computer from working properly until you pay a ransom. In theory, paying the ransom will restore access – but it may also encourage the hackers to try and extort more money.

Without access to your data, operations are significantly disrupted – and that adds even more to the overall cost of the infection. Having lost their mission-critical systems, many organisations pay the ransom in the hope of restoring access quickly. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that this strategy will work as expected – the cybercriminals may choose to keep the money and run.

Different types of ransomware

There are four main types of ransomware:

1. Crypto-ransomware that encrypts all of your files. The only way to regain access is using a decryption key which the hacker will provide for a fee.

2. Disk coding ransomware that encrypts critical software and prevents your computer from starting.

3. Screen locker ransomware that prevents you from accessing the screen of your device. In the meantime, hackers have complete control of the infected computer.

4. PIN locker ransomware that changes the PIN code used to unlock your device.

The methods and techniques vary, but they all prevent you from accessing your IT resources.

How to protect against infection

There are two key safeguards against ransomware infections – effective antivirus software and robust backups.

1. Antivirus tools

Ideally you want to stop ransomware from being installed – and antivirus software can assist. These toolkits scan your device and block suspicious activity, such as software installs, until you can check that they are legitimate.

2. Robust backup systems

You should also prepare for what happens after an infection. Ensuring you have a robust, reliable backup is invaluable, allowing you to recover a ‘clean’ copy of your data. You want this process to be as quick as possible to reduce downtime and the cost of the infection.

Do SMEs have to worry?

Large companies and organisations steal all the headlines about ransomware infections – but SMEs are likely to be victims too. A lack of in-house IT knowledge and experience makes SMEs an easier target for infection – and therefore more likely to pay a moderate ransom.

Every business must have safeguards to protect against (and recover from) ransomware attacks. Otherwise, their operations and reputation could be compromised. They may also face significant fines from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) if sensitive personal data is exposed by the breach.

To learn more about ransomware – and how to better protect yourself against it – please give the WTL team a call.

cloud based solutions birmingham

The Plain English Guide to Password Managers

What is a password manager? Why should your business be using one? Here’s everything you need to know.

Password managers offer a partial solution to one of the biggest security challenges faced by SMEs – passwords. Although vital, passwords are one of the most vulnerable aspects of your entire IT system; if a hacker can get past your system authentication, they can steal data, disrupt operations and cause considerable damage to your organisation.

One of the easiest ways to boost security is to implement a strong password rule. This means including:

  • Upper case letters
  • Lower case letters
  • Numbers
  • Special characters (!£*&- etc)
  • 10+ characters to make the password longer

The password should also be unique. Every account your employees use should have a separate, unique passphrase.

The problem with strong passwords is that they are incredibly hard to remember – or to type correctly. Especially when you have dozens of accounts across different systems.

But this is where password managers can help.

What is a password manager?

A password manager is an app that automatically generates and stores complex passwords – all you need to remember is one, secure master password to gain access. The app then takes care of everything else.

You can think of a password manager as being like a bank vault. All your passwords are securely stored inside the vault and the only way to access them is by unlocking the vault door. No key, no entry. But you only need one key to access the entire contents of the vault.

However, the password manager can create ultra-secure, unique, hacker-resistant passphrases whenever you need a new one. And more importantly still, it can automatically retrieve those impossible-to-remember passwords whenever you need them.

Solving a major security headache

Approximately two-thirds of people reuse passwords across accounts, creating a significant security risk. If hackers can obtain one of these duplicated passwords, they can use it to compromise several systems and services.

Password duplication is completely understandable (very few people can remember 20+ complex passwords unaided), but it is also a major failing in your IT defences. Using a password manager allows you to close this loophole by automatically generating completely unique passwords. And the software is simple and intuitive, so your employees don’t have to worry about forgetting any of their logins.

Until the IT industry finds a secure, robust, repeatable solution to replace passwords, businesses will continue to experience password-related security breaches. But until then, a password management app could help to significantly reduce that risk.

To learn more about password managers and how they can help keep your business more secure, please give us a call.

cloud based solutions birmingham

ESET Protect – Complete Multi-layered Protection for your Business

WTL are very excited to announce that we have recently partnered with award-winning global digital security leader ESET. We can now offer our customers ESET PROTECT, an easy-to-use security platform to protect endpoints, business data and users across all operating systems, available as both cloud or on-premises installations.

So, who are ESET?

  • ESET offers award-winning antivirus protection for Windows, macOS, Linux, and mobile devices. They help users with identity theft protection and the detection and removal of malware and viruses.
  • ESET security solutions are completely agile and use machine learning to stay up to date with the latest malware signatures and threats.
  • ESET are a global digital security company, protecting millions of customers and thousands of companies worldwide.
  • ESET is trusted by some of the biggest companies in the world, such as: Mitsubishi Motors, Google, Canon and Allianz. ESET are also highly regarded by partners and independent analysts.

So why ESET?

  • 13 global Research & Development centres.
  • 600+ R&D experts behind ESET technology.
  • 30+ years of experience in internet security.
  • ESET reaffirmed ‘Champion’ status in Canalys Global Cybersecurity Leadership Matrix 2022.
  • ESET was Rewarded with the AV-Test Top Product Award in “the best Windows antivirus software” test in the business category.
  • For the fourth consecutive year, ESET has been named a ‘Top Player’ in the Radicati Endpoint Security Market Quadrant.
  • ESET has earned the AAA award for its ESET Endpoint Security 9.0 solution in the Enterprise Endpoint Protection Awards from the SE Labs.
  • ESET has been named a Strategic Leader in Endpoint Protection & Response (ERP) Comparative Report by AV-Comparatives.

Why does WTL Use ESET itself?

  • A small footprint on the desktop,
  • Easy deployment and ongoing administration (centralized management)
  • Trusted threat detection and mitigation with reporting
  • Offers A Single-pane-of-glass solution that protects all platforms, including desktop and mobile devices.

Another New Addition to our Team 

We are delighted to welcome Katie Cross to WTL Team. Katie started with us in January as a Sales Associate. She is a Philosophy graduate with a long-standing passion for IT and an enthusiasm to learn all about the services and solutions that WTL offer. Katie also has a drive for helping others, thus is passionate about sales and the process of communicating with and assisting customers.

In the last few months, since starting, Katie has undergone training with our vendor partners and gained certification surrounding the IT solutions and services we offer. Katie has also participated in sales training with Pareto Law and began her training with the ESET PROTECT campaign. This started as a mini campaign but due to the success of this, a larger ESET PROTECT is underway.

Cybersecurity Solutions West Midlands

Has the pandemic caused a digital transformation IT security nightmare?

As the pandemic eases, businesses are reviewing what has happened over the last two years. For many, work-from-home orders have accelerated their digital transformation efforts. They will have rolled out new technologies to facilitate remote access in a matter of weeks – far faster than their original digital transformation timetables would have expected.

Although the roll-outs have been impressive in terms of speed, security has been something of an afterthought. Functionality has been prioritised over every other factor to ensure employees remain productive.

This may have helped businesses survive lockdown – but it has also created a serious hidden problem.

Lack of coherent strategy

Corporate IT has been moving toward a hybrid cloud model for some time. The need to enable remote working simply accelerated adoption, often without applying the usual strategic security checks and implementations.

Given that virtually all cloud platforms operate on a shared responsibility model (they secure data stored in the cloud, you secure it everywhere else), this could be leaving your business dangerously exposed. Insecure endpoints or cloud-based applications are an open invitation to hackers.

Shadow IT

In the early stages of lockdown, many employees began choosing tools to help them keep working – often consumer-grade applications. Zoom became the go-to tool for video-conferencing – only later did security researchers discover how insecure the platform actually was.

In the meantime, users continue to rely on unsanctioned apps without the knowledge of the IT team. This shadow IT means you have no control over the apps, and you cannot properly secure data in them either.

Regaining control

These threats are very real: 82% of businesses report at least one data breach as a result of digital transformation. This means that you must act to close the security gaps in your current strategy by:

  • Extending your security strategy to address the specific issues surrounding the cloud and third-party systems. Where does your responsibility end and theirs begin? What must be done to plug the gaps?
  • Prioritise secured systems first. When selecting workloads for migration to the cloud, choose those which have already been secured. This will help you avoid amplifying existing security issues in the new environment.
  • Apply modern cloud infrastructure principles such as compliance as code and policy as code which can be used to automate security in the hosted environment.

Digital transformation projects are supposed to accelerate organisation speed and flexibility – as many businesses have realised in the past two years. However, given the magnitude of risks you currently face, the focus must now shift to securing systems against cyberattacks – even if that means slowing the pace of change temporarily.

For more help and advice about securing your systems in the cloud, and how WTL can help you avoid disaster,  please get in touch.

protect your business against ransomware

How to protect your business against ransomware

If you can project knowledge and experience, you can probably talk unprepared users into doing whatever you tell them. Hackers will learn your organisation structure, names of key stakeholders and then contact staff pretending to be a senior manager and urging them to open an important file. Even if the employee realises they have been tricked, it is too late – the ransomware will have already set to work on your network.

We take a look at some practical tips to protect your business against ransomware infection but first we look two common ways hackers can gain access to your IT sytems.


Phishing has evolved from stealing sensitive login details to encouraging users to install ransomware. Having received an official-looking email and clicked through to an official-looking website, the user is encouraged to download and install an official-looking app – which just happens to contain malware.

Malicious websites

Just general web surfing can be a recipe for disaster if your employees land on a compromised site. Click on the wrong pop-up or download the wrong file and malware can gain a foothold in the network.

You must teach your employees about these risks – and how to avoid them.


Preventing ransomware infections is mostly common sense, applying IT security best practices to your infrastructure and operations, including:

  • Regularly patching and updating software to address vulnerabilities and reduce opportunities for exploits.
  • Ensuring endpoint anti-virus software is installed, configured and kept fully up-to-date at all times.
  • Use policies to prevent end-users from installing software or running applications with elevated permissions.
  • Maintain content filtering and firewall whitelists and blacklists to limit traffic to untrusted or compromised websites.
  • Limit access to the physical computer ports to prevent ransomware ingress on removable drives etc.
  • Audit your network regularly to identify gaps in your security systems – including testing your employees’ responses to social engineering attacks.
  • Lockdown as many permissions and access rights as possible. Ensure that staff only have what they need to do their jobs.

Limiting access rights may occasionally cause issues – but they are nothing compared to the fall-out from a ransomware attack.


Despite your best efforts, it is likely ransomware will eventually make it through your defences – the larger the network, the higher the probability. When it does, you need to be prepared to bring operations back online as quickly as possible.

Usually, backups take place once every 24 hours. If a ransomware outbreak shortly before the cycle restarts, you could lose a full day’s work – which could be catastrophic.

Your disaster recovery provisions need to reduce these gaps between cycles. Snapshots and smaller, targeted backups can create copies of key data more regularly speeding up the remediation process after infection.

There are many tools to help achieve these goals, but identifying, configuring and deploying the right ones for your business is not necessarily straightforward. WTL can cut through the confusion, our specialists will help your business build an effective, efficient disaster recovery solution that allows you to respond to ransomware quickly – without losing data.

To learn more about how we can help you protect your business against ransomware, please get in touch or take a look at the cyber security services  we offer.