on 27/09/2016 00:00:00

It’s clear from recent headlines that ransomware is a growing problem. The number of reported incidents is rising and the reason why is simple – people and businesses are paying their attackers.

There is help on hand, though. ‘No More Ransom’ is a pan-European project dedicated to helping ransomware victims, so they can get their files back without having to pay up. Of course, businesses and consumers should educate themselves before they fall victim to the cyber criminals, rather than after. Let’s take a look at what ransomware is and what you can do to protect yourself from an attack.

What is ransomware?

Ransomware is a type of malware which encrypts your computer’s files, preventing you from accessing them. Victims are told they must pay a ransom within a certain timeframe to receive the necessary decryption key. Often, the malware threatens to delete the locked files should the victim refuse to pay or try to decrypt the documents themselves. However, paying the criminals is the worst course of action to take, as this makes their malware profitable, encouraging them to attack other businesses and consumers. There’s also no guarantee you’ll be sent the decryption key even if you do pay up.

Why is it so difficult to prevent infections?

First of all, there are now more than 50 families of ransomware out there, and new variations are being created all the time, making it difficult for antivirus software to keep up. Secondly, encryption in itself is not malicious, so some variants are able to slip past antivirus software undetected.

However, that’s not to say antivirus software is useless; most are able to detect ransomware threats early on. Therefore it’s important to keep such programs switched on.

However, that’s not to say antivirus software is useless; most are able to detect ransomware threats early on. Therefore it’s important to keep such programs switched on.

How can I protect myself against ransomware attacks?

There are a number of things people can do to avoid falling victim to a ransomware attack:

  • Make sure you have a secure domain login password, including upper and lower case letters, numbers and preferably symbols. Password1 will not suffice!

  • Don’t open suspicious-looking links or attachments – this is most important piece of advice we can offer. Be wary of anything you do not recognise. The same rules apply if you are accessing personal email accounts such as Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail etc. from inside the office.

  • Always have a back-up system in place, and ensure that important files are backed up in at least two places. One of these should be a pure Cloud Backup solution, such as that we provide through Mozy, and the other may be some form of tape drive, removable HDDs or secure replication to another device off-site.

  • Use tough antivirus software, keep all functions switched on and ensure definitions are constantly updated. We recommend VIPRE Business Security.

  • Keep all software on your computer and smartphone up to date. If you have a Windows XP machine or Windows 2003 server, now is the time to change it!

  • Disconnect your device from the network immediately if you discover a rogue process taking place on your machine. If you are connected via a network cable then simply unplug it, if you are on WiFi then disconnect straight away. This can help stop the spread to other devices on your network if you catch it in time.

If you are looking to update your security to make sure your company data is protected, contact one of our Account Managers today, on and they will be able to advise you on the best solutions available for your business needs.