Ransomware, one of the most common forms of malware wreaking havoc with small businesses, is exactly what its unsavory name implies. It is a threat to publish a victim’s data or block access to it unless a ransom is paid. It’s illegal, it’s malicious, and it is gaining speed with one survey indicating that ransomware attacks have increased by 97% over the past couple years.

We sometimes wonder what these cyber criminals could accomplish if they used their knowledge for “good” rather than evil. But, because they don’t, it’s important to be extremely vigilant.

Ransomware can appear on a computer through phishing or spam emails containing attachments. These attachments or links in the content are where the ransomware lives. When the attachment is clicked, the computer is at risk of becoming infected with a ransomware. Another way ransomware can infect your computer is through compromised websites.

Although some ransomware can be fairly simply reversed by someone with computer savvy, more advanced malware uses a technique known as cryptoviral extortion. What happens here is a victim’s files are encrypted, which makes them inaccessible…and then the ransom demand kicks in. “You pay us, and we’ll decrypt your files.”

We’d all like to think we’re immune to this cyber criminality when the reality is if you use the Internet you’re fair game for malicious intent. These ransomware attacks can run the range from frustrating and difficult to absolute catastrophe. Attackers know a good thing when they see it; as long as people continue to pay ransoms, these criminals will strike. And it doesn’t look like this method of information hostage taking will slow down.

So, how do you protect your business from being a victim of this type of malware? Here are a few actions to take:

  • Back up your data for easy retrieval if your network is attacked
  • Use strong antivirus software
  • Install protection software that will help prevent your data from being encrypted; there exist many such endpoint protection solutions on the market
  • Maintain up-to-date computer operating systems
  • Have an effective cloud back-up solution in place; be sure to research before selecting the cloud method that will offer the best benefit for your organization
  • Educate your employees on proper cyber hygiene
  • Underscore the importance of vetting emails and links before a seemingly innocent click of the mouse turns into disaster
  • If you haven’t already, partner with a good, reputable IT partner who can look out for your interests

Ransomware attacks have gained incredible speed over the past few years because they are fast, simple to conduct and have a high payout.

Technology has sometimes been described as a two-way sword. While it has made our lives so much easier in so many ways, it has also opened up a Pandora’s box of threat, intimidation and fear. Cyber criminals are essentially house robbers. If you leave your door unlocked or don’t have a security program in place, they will visit – and the visit won’t be a pleasant one. If we can help, email us info@pulsetechnology.com.