What is Ransomware & How To Protect Your Business

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Your business is something that you will want to make sure that you protect. Not only for the sake of your interests and money, but also for your valued customers too.

There has been plenty of news stories circulating around in the past few months about Ransomware, particularly a global attack in May which affected over 200,000 different organisations around the world, including the NHS which had many IT Support companies working 24/7 trying to secure these network and stop the attack from spreading.

Dubbed the WannaCry Ransomware, it seemed to prey on a flaw in the much used Microsoft Software, which allowed it to spread across networks with ease, locking away valuable files. It seems that despite there being security experts who managed to stop this attack, as well as some other subsequent attacks, the problems that they caused, not to mention the security concerns are still very much around.

What is Ransomware?

So, what exactly is Ransomware?

It appears that this software has been around since 2005, created in the US, before spreading across the rest of the world.

The idea behind this cyber security attacks is that you will be requested to make a payment in order to gain access to important files. The hackers see this as a quick and easy way to receive money, particularly as they know that the majority of the files that they have locked down are incredibly important.

Access to these files, as well as the computer system as a whole is blocked until the payment is made.

Ransomware is a malicious form of software and can be downloaded onto a computer, tablet or even a smartphone. However in order to gain access to a network, it needs to be downloaded onto the network, this is usually done by the hacker getting the victim to click on a link, or perhaps download something.

They usually disguise it within an email attachment, such as documents, music or photographs. The victim will not know that this link contains Ransomware, and once the link is clicked or downloaded the hackers will be able to attack the files on the network via the software. This is a gradual process and the files are encrypted one after another.

How to protect yourself against Ransomware

Concerned that your business is not properly protected against any Ransomware attacks? If you are, then you will be pleased to know that there are steps that you can take in order to protect your company and customers data.

One of the first things you should do is make sure that your important files are backed up on a separate system. This may seem like an added expense, but if you find yourself as part of a Ransomware attack then you will know that the hackers don’t have the only copy of your files. However, of course they will still have this information.

It can be tricky to protect and prevent a determined Ransomware attack, particularly if you are part of a large company with plenty of potential targets. The best thing to do is to exercise caution, and remind your employees to do the same thing. After all, the hackers can gain access to your network simply by requesting someone downloads something onto a single computer or mobile phone.

As the most common way of gaining access to the network is through a compromised email or download from a website, this should be something that you and your employees do with caution. You should never download or even open an email or website that you think could be a phishing email. Even if it looks like it could be from a reputable source, such as a bank or even an employee within the company.

It is good practice to check the senders email, making sure that it is correct and that it hasn’t come from an outside source. If you are ever in any doubt, never open the link or download the attachment. You could always call the source to see if they are who they say they are. For a bank or other source, search for their contact number on Google rather than calling any numbers that are included within the email.

Another way to prevent an attack is to use an antivirus programme that is able to scan files before they are downloaded, and also block any installations that may contain malware. Particularly those that are hidden, and that you didn’t even know were being downloaded.

Should you pay the ransom request?

Ransomware hackers will request a payment, usually in bitcoins in order to release the files that they have control of. Bitcoins are a digital currency, which is used to make payments across the cyber world with minimum tracking and no fees.

As a victim of a Ransomware attack, you may feel tempted to pay the amount requested by the hackers. Particularly if the files that have been shut down are important to your business or contain your personal information.

However, it is important that you do not pay the amount that they are requesting. Not only does this encourage the attackers to make further attacks, but there is also no guarantee that you will receive the files back that they have been able to access.

Rather than making a payment, the best thing to do is try to restore the affected files from a back up. If you do not have a back up, or it does not appear to be working, then there are a number of tools out there that you can use to try and decrypt the hacked files and recover them.

Ransomware attacks can be concerning, but you should remember that you can protect yourself, and make sure that your files are properly protected. This is a relatively easy process, and with some common sense and careful consideration with regards to what you download, you can make sure that the hackers are less likely to attack your business files and data.


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