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10
Oct
2019
The Threat of Ransomware

The Threat of Ransomware

At one time, the value of a stolen credit card number was a highly-priced item, but the increase in cybercrime and the sophistication of cybercriminals have made even those less relevant. Since it has become more difficult and less profitable to steal and sell this information, cybercriminals have had to move on to more elaborate techniques. Enter, ransomware. Cybercriminals have found easier ways to earn higher profits, and more lucrative targets like banks and hospitals, this tactic, "Ransomware" is a trend that isn’t going away anytime soon, which is why it's critical you learn how to protect yourself from ransomware. 

What Is Ransomware?

Ransomware comes in many forms most of which are constantly evolving to become more sophisticated and difficult to detect.  Using malware, cybercriminals attempt to extort money from victims by infecting their device or PC.  An unsuspecting user unknowingly downloads ransomware by clicking on a malicious link via a phishing email, false website, or even a text message.  The software then locates and encrypts data on the device and proceeds to lock the victim from accessing files or system functionality.  The infected device then alerts the user to a demand, which is often a form of payment in bitcoin.  This can range from hundreds to thousands, of dollars.  Only after payment will they be able to access and recover their files.  For now.  There is no guarantee that this won’t happen again, or that the attacker will return the files following the payment. 

How to Protect Yourself from Ransomware

To secure yourself from these growing threats, take action and incorporate these solutions for your business BEFORE you’ve become a victim.

1.  Backup your files regularly.  The best way to avoid having to pay the ransom is to have a current valid backup of your data.  Frequency should be your next consideration. If ransomware manages to encrypt the only copy of a file, you will never be able to retrieve the data without paying for it. Regular replication, however, ensures that you always have a backup. While needs differ between organizations, it’s sensible to keep at least three copies of data, on two devices and with one copy offsite.

2.  Maintain your software by keeping it updated.  Ensure that your computer is always upgraded to the latest patches and updates. If possible, allow your software and operating system to be automatically updated when developers release the packages.  This tip on how to avoid ransomware is a must because outdated software is a common entry point for a ransomware virus. 

3.  Leverage a solid foundation of security controls.  Limit the data an attacker can access. With dynamic control access, you help ensure that your entire network security is not compromised in a single attack. Segregate your network into distinct zones each requiring different credentials.

4.  Utilize content scanning software and filtering on your email servers.  Inbound e-mails should be scanned for known threats and should block any attachment types that could pose a threat.

5.  Be careful of public wifi. If your employees are accessing the business servers while working remotely or traveling, make sure they are cognizant of using public wi-fi.  Have them alert the IT department when they are going to be using public wireless Internet.  Make sure there is a policy in place that ensures they use a trustworthy Virtual Private Network (VPN) when accessing public wi-fi.   

Ransomware criminals often attack small and medium-sized businesses. Among other cyber attacks, ransomware is one criminal activity that can be easily worked around with the above-mentioned solutions. Still concerned? Call us at 973-448-0070 for a free security analysis!

If you want more great information technology tips, visit our blog or if you have any questions feel free to call our office at 973-448-0070 ext 312 to talk to Patrice.

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