Ransomware is an extremely prevalent method used to exploit businesses for financial gain. Like all criminals, cyber-criminals are constantly looking for new and easy ways to make money; however, antivirus and computer security tools have improved and those vectors of attack have become more challenging. So, enterprising cyber-criminals have turned to ransomware to perpetrate their crimes. Here are a few simple ransomware protection tips that will help prevent attacks from occurring.
Why Protect Against Ransomware?
As Digital Trends writer Chris Stobing noted, “The earliest known version of ransomware, called CryptoLocker, first debuted on the scene . . . in 2013 and hit so hard, the Internet barely had enough time to figure out what it was dealing with.” Viruses like CryptoLocker, Cryptowall, and now TeslaCrypt contain malware that encrypt data already on your computer and agrees to remove the encryption for a fee. Because cyber-criminals who use these malicious tools invariably make good on their promise to release the computer after the ransom is paid, many victims of ransomware chose to pay the ransom to resolve the problem quickly. In fact, in 2015, the Federal Bureau of Investigation reported that victims paid in excess of $24 million to these attackers. This response and the simplicity of the technology used to encrypt the targeted hard disks provides attackers with an easy revenue stream and perpetuates a growing problem.
Who Are the Mostly Likely Targets?
In short, any large corporation or government agency. Hospitals, banks, police departments—even the U.S. Congress—have all been targeted. Individual users aren’t immune either.
Ransomware Protection Tips for Your Business
Ransomware does pose a serious threat to your organization; however, it’s not an insurmountable problem. Here are four easy ransomware protection tips you can use today to safeguard your company’s financial information:
- Back-Up. Everything! As Chris Stobing so eloquently puts it, “At its core, ransomware exploits people’s unwillingness to back-up their most precious data and files onto a separate hard drive that is completely disconnected from their main PC or network.” So, make it a point to back-up often to external hard drives and the like that are not connected to your network, or consider a cloud solution like Amazon Simple Storage Service or Carbonite.
- Invest in quality Antimalware Tools. Businesses have many options for software- and service-based antimalware solutions, including Kaspersky Internet Security, Bitdefender Antivirus, McAfee AntiVirus Plus, and Trend Micro Antivirus+Security.
- Try “unblockers.” If you’ve already fallen victim to a ransomware attack, consider an “unblocker” tool like Kaspersky WindowsUnlocker or Trend Micro Ransomware Screen Unlocker Tool.
- Educate your users. On desktop and laptop computers, ransomware relies on social engineering attacks to succeed. So, make a point of educating your users to recognize phishing attacks in email and downloaded files.
Is it Possible to Remove Ransomware?
Ransomware came on the scene in two waves: before encryption and after encryption. Before encryption, ransomware attacks focused on desktop and laptop computers, infecting these systems through already-installed botnets and phishing schemes embedded in email messages and Internet downloads. Soon, however, the attacks went mobile.
Historically, mobile targets were devices running the Android operating system and a few iOS devices were hit as well. Unlike computers which rely on encryption to protect data residing on the machine, the data on most mobile devices is backed up to the cloud. So, the damage that ransomware does to mobile users is typically limited; however, that doesn’t mean that mobile devices are safe. It only means that mobile devices have been relatively safe until now.
It is possible to remove ransomware but it’s very difficult, expensive, and time consuming. The best way to eliminate ransomware is to focus on preventing attacks. Contact All Phases IT and speak with one our experienced IT consultants. We’ll evaluate your current security systems and help you determine the best way to keep your company—and its finances—safe.