Ransomware is a type of malicious software (malware) used to kidnap data, files, and photos by encrypting the data and demanding payment for the decryption key. According to The F.B.I. ransomware is the fastest growing malware across industries, up 50% in 2016 compared to 2015.
A ransomware infection is delivered through e-mail attachments, infected programs and compromised websites. Once the ransomware is activated, infected machines will no longer be operational. A message will appear on your computer that offers a choice. Pay the ransom in a certain amount of time, generally 72 hours, or lose all files forever. Directions for payment are also provided.
Effects of a ransomware infection include:
- Inability to execute programs other than ones required to pay the ransom.
- Termination of other programs that may be running.
- Restriction of the ability to browse the internet except for sites required to pay the ransom.
- Encryption of files that prevents being able to access them.
Once the ransom is paid criminals theoretically will send a key code to allow use of the computer and access to files, or, they may just take the money and run. This leaves victims with the same problem.
Like all technologies, ransomware has evolved and become more insidious. Instead of locking up a single computer it can now spread throughout an entire network, locking all files, computers (including cloud storage like Dropbox and Google Drive) and network-attached storage. In essence, a business has zero access to critical business applications and data. The latest versions can grant the criminals all administrative rights to a network.
How Do You Protect Your Business?
The single most important protection against ransomware is a strong, reliable backup solution with a tested disaster recovery plan. Good backups and a disaster recovery plan can wipe clean any infected devices and restore from backups without having to deal with criminals.
- A successful defense starts with end user education. Do not open attachments in unsolicited emails. Only download software from sites you know and trust.
- Make sure you have an updated corporate-grade antivirus and SPAM filter on all your machines that is properly configured and monitored. We have had great success with both Trend Micro antivirus and SPAM filter.
- Enable automated patches for your operating systems and browsers.
- Use strong passwords.
- Use and update anti-malware software. Four Winds Network Services recommends Malwarebytes. There is a free version available. Make sure you manually update this version on a regular basis.
The Four Winds Engineers are experts in configuring backups and disaster recovery strategies to protect your business. Give us a call. We would love to talk to you! 941.315.2380.