27th June 2016
Protecting Yourself From Ransomware
First things first, what is ransomware?
Ransomware is an offshoot of malware with one specific difference – ransom. While the purpose of malware (or malicious software) is to gain access to computers to disrupt their functions or gather data and sensitive information, ransomware encrypts your files until you pay a ransom.
June 13th ransomware incident
How is malware/ransomware transferred to a computer?
As said before, while unsolicited email attachments are the most well known way for a computer to come down with malware/ransomware, it can also be spread by infected websites and USB devices. Much like in real life, anything that is third party should be treated cautiously. Though it’s been said many times before, if it seems to good to be true, it probably is.
Who is at risk?
Everyone who uses the internet. However, large businesses with sensitive data tend to be most at risk. It can even happen at facilities you would expect to be secure. One of the most recent prolific incidents of ransomware happened at Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital. The hospital ended up paying the hackers $17,000 (USD) to get their data back.
What can you do to protect yourself from ransomware?
Plan in advance
Make sure you have a security plan that is regularly updated. This can be achieved by working with your IT provider to ensure that the appropriate measures are taken with the right antivirus software and firewalls are set up to protect you. Use a reputable agency that will answer your questions to your satisfaction.
Take regular backups of your files
As ransomware encrypts your files, if you have a copy of your files that has been recently backed up on an external device, it will allow you to still use these files on another device while you get your computer sorted. This helps minimise downtime and disruption to work.
Make staff aware of the dangers and get them to be vigilant
Educate staff on the dangers of opening attachments from unknown sources. Lots of current spam emails are being made to look legitimate but ask employees to keep an eye out for small things such as spelling errors in the emails, the emails not being personalised (Dear Valued Customer), and inconsistencies in the logos and email signatures. If it is unlikely that an employee would be receiving an attachment from someone, don’t open it. While most people are aware of malware, they may not know about ransomware and a reminder is always helpful. With a little effort, you’ll be able to keep your business safe from hackers and limit the damage they can do.
RAA-SEP (.locked) Ransomware Help & Support Topic