Don't Let Ransomware Ruin Your Day

Ransomware attacks are on the rise. Here's what you need to know to remain safe.

What is ransomware?

Ransomware is software that takes control of your computer, encrypts your data, and locks you out until an anonymous payment is made to decrypt your data. Usually, people are tricked into installing ransomware by doing something as simple as clicking a link on a malicious or compromised webpage.

Are you prepared for a ransomware attack?

What would happen to your business if the computers and data you depend on suddenly became unavailable? How much time and money would you lose? The right time to think about these questions is now -- not when your computer has been compromised. Here are a few things that you can do now to protect yourself and your business:

  1. Identify business critical systems and data. Ask yourself whether your business could continue to operate without a particular system or without access to certain data. Ensure that you have an appropriate remote backup solution for all critical data, and that critical systems remain updated with the latest operating system patches and application updates.

  2. Keep your computers patched with the latest security updates. Most ransomware uses a known software vulnerability to install itself. Choose the auto-update patch option for your operating system and stay current. Upgrade old operating systems that no longer receive security update patches.

  3. Run current antivirus/antimalware software. This helps reduce your risk of getting tricked into installing ransomware or other malware. Make sure your antivirus software is actually current - If your subscription expired, then you could be left with old or expired antivirus definitions.

  4. Teach your team to use common sense. If something looks suspicious, don't click on it or open it. Be aware while reading email and browsing the Web. If something doesn't look right, be suspicious.

  5. Have a plan and test it. It’s best to be prepared to minimize the impact of an attack. Know what equipment and software you need to restore your data, and how long it will take to actually restore your data.

Does cloud software protect you from the biggest risks of ransomware?

In many cases, the answer is a resounding yes! The odds are very good that your cloud providers have more trained staff auditing and improving overall security than you do. Cloud providers also plan for high availability and ensure that services are secure, fault tolerant, and that your data is securely backed up regularly. When your business runs in the cloud, your disaster recovery plan could be as simple as accessing your data from another computer that is not infected.