Since the 1989 creation of the AIDs Trojan by Harvard-trained Joseph L. Popp, ransomware has been on the rise. In fact, it’s been the most common threat to cybersecurity since 2005. “It’s become a very, very profitable market and it is here to stay,” says Google’s Elie Bursztein. So, what the heck is it?
Ransomware is a form of malware that compromises your network security by taking over your computer, locking you out, and encrypting or scrambling your files so that they can no longer be read or used. In order to regain access, you’ll need a decryption key, which you’ll pay a decent sum of money to get. When you do finally regain access, there’s no way to guarantee that the hacker hasn’t made a copy of your data for themselves. This means that your sensitive data could still be floating around, and hackers can potentially use it at a later date to demand more money or do damage to your reputation.
Additionally, “the average ransom demand is around $1,077.” These ransoms are usually paid in the form of Bitcoins. Unlike paying for something with a credit or debit card, transactions made with Bitcoin are completely anonymous and cannot be used to personally identify you which is appealing to cyber criminals.
According to a Kaspersky report, “There’s a ransomware attack on a business once every 40 seconds.” That means, every minute of every day a business becomes a cyber criminal’s victim. Knowing how frequently attacks occur, it’s a good idea to put protocols in place that help protect your business from becoming one of them. Four ways to do that are:
It’s a good idea to invest in anti-malware software. This kind of program will block malicious websites, emails, and files attempting to enter your network. There are a variety of options out there. A good anti-malware software will protect against a variety of threats, alerting you when things look suspicious and risks arise.
Staying up-to-date with the latest software and app security patches will help prevent hackers from finding their way into your network. Turning on automatic updates will make sure you never miss one.
It’s a good idea to regularly backup your data, with or without looming cyberthreat. There are few feelings worse than losing all of your files to a cyber attack or a glass of water spilled on your machine.
The 3-2-1 rule is a great place to start when it comes to backing up your data. The rule says you should have three copies of your data, in two different formats, with one off-site. That should be a combination of cloud and physical backups. Of course, this only works if you perform backups regularly.
A good rule of thumb is to never open links or attachments sent from people you do not know. And even if you do know them, be cautious. If an attachment, email, or link (sent by anyone) looks suspicious, don’t open it! Hackers can steal the online accounts of your email contacts and create dummy accounts that look like those of banks, service providers, retailers, etc. All it takes is one click to download ransomware. So be safe and don’t click.
At PRO Oncall, your network security is a priority. If your business is looking to prevent ransomware and other cyber attacks, contact us. We’ll work with you to create a security strategy that works for your business, keeping sensitive data safely inside your network and cyber criminals out of it.