Every year, there are between 80 and 90 incidents involving cybersecurity. It has been estimated that there are at least 400 new threats emerging every minute. Only 30% of these attacks are found out. Many information technology (IT) professionals report that threats by ransomware are on the rise and that not enough businesses are taking the appropriate steps to protect themselves.
What is “ransomware?” The name alone sounds scary and should be. This is the next generation of malware. The ransomware gets into computer networks and systems, installs itself and then encrypts the data on that system. The sender will demand a payment to restore the system to the configuration of the system before the malware got on the system or network. Most often, the malware source asks for the payment in bitcoins. Sometimes, IT services professionals can undo the damage without much problem but sometimes they cannot.
- Back up your data. There is not an IT consulting firm on the planet that would not advise a company to back everything up. Some professionals recommend having two back ups. One should be stored on any of the cloud services and the other on an external hard drive or larger physical space. One back up should have protections so that the files cannot be modified in any way or deleted. This can be your back up should you need to restore your system to a date before the ransomware was added to the system.
- Keep a close eye on your back up. There are a number of things that can cause it to fail. Anything with physical parts that move has the potential to break down. You will find that running checks on your physical and cloud back ups to check for errors or other problems is a great idea and worth the time and expense.
- Be wary of error messages from banks or stores. Often cybercriminals use a method that is called “phishing.” They will send out fake error messages that look like they are from reputable financial institutions or companies. If you receive any that are from banks, for instance, that you do not use, professionals say this is time to revisit your spam settings. Do not open attachments to these emails.
- Never open attachments from people or entities that you do not know. This is as basic as backing up your data but many IT people say that it is a common cause of malware and ransomware being installed on computer systems and networks around the world. This includes attachments that are sent through any social media channel. It is never worth it to open something you are not expecting. If you delete something that is not a threat and that you want, the person can always resend it.
- Cut off your internet connection if you see strange activity. If you notice a strange process has begin running on your computer, disconnect it from the internet completely. If it was ransomware, you may have gotten the connection cut in time so that you can restore your data to its original state. Talk to your IT department or staffer about this.
- Keep all of your software updated. That includes your operating system, browsers, virus protection and any applications that you use all of the time. When you let your software go without upgrading, vulnerabilities can emerge that can be exploited by people who create ransomware and malware.
- Make sure you have a great anti-virus software package installed. Many people do not think too much about the kind of anti-virus software that they use but they should. There are a number of great packages out there and having one that is up to date and offers serious protection can give you some peace of mind.
In the book “Catch 22,” the main character, Joseph Heller states, “andldquo;Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.andrdquo; You may not think your business or even your home computer system is vulnerable to cyber attack but you are. Every day, people all over the world are developing new systems to attack businesses and individuals and steal their data or find ways to extort them for cash. This is a problem that impacts all sizes of companies.