• Guest Writer

Ransomware

Updated: Oct 17

Why should I care?


Photo courtesy of shutterstock.com | Golden Dayz

 

You may have heard about ransomware, but not nearly enough attention has been given to the dangers to individuals and small businesses from this criminal cyberattack strategy.

Ransomware is even more crippling than the common "break-in and take data to sell on the Internet" type of information theft.


Attacks from ransomware gangs have become more common this year than ever, and some of these gangs are so skilled that they even create mini contact centers to call you and steal your cash.


So, what is ransomware? This “business model” dates to the earliest pre-historic extortion crimes. Ransomware locks down your PC, network, files, and programs. The attackers hold your data, software, or entire network hostage until you pay them a ransom to get it back. And of course, you are dealing with criminals, so there is no guarantee you will ever get your data back even if you meet the cyber criminals’ demands.


So how do you know that you’ve been attacked by ransomware?

Suddenly you can’t access the usual programs on your computer. Your data is encrypted, and a message on your screen tells you that you must pay Bitcoins to get access again.

There might even be a “countdown clock” displaying the remaining time before you must pay or you will lose everything. According to Microsoft, some versions even accuse you of breaking the law and claim that a Federal agency, a police department, or another official enforcement organization is locking you down. The FBI logo is used in some versions.

Ransomware gangs frequently target small businesses and sometimes even individuals on home computers. Why? Because they are most likely to not have any type of protection against ransomware attacks. Small businesses often think they have nothing to steal, “so why would they want to attack me?” The answer: to extort money from you.

Although they are an important protection step, data backups are not enough to stop ransomware. They can help—after the fact—but multiple layers of data protection and attack prevention are needed to keep you safe.


Here are Six Things You Can Do to Protect Yourself:

1. Keep your antivirus application current.

2. Train your staff with data breach awareness programs.

3. Back up your data and make sure your backups are isolated when you aren’t backing up.

4. Keep your applications up to date on the current version.

5. Use complex passwords and use a password manager to change your passwords regularly.

6. Use pop-up blockers and ad blockers.

 

If you have been a victim of cybercrime and need some help, or if you would like to learn more about how to protect yourself, please contact CyberSecure IT Solutions at 239.494.5014.





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