Ransomware: The threat is real and more common than ever!
What is it?
Ransonware is a virus that encrypts your data thus making it unusable. In order to decrypt your data you must pay a ransom to someone, over the internet, for them to provide you with a decryption key. The key they provide unlocks your data and the keys are never the same.
How is it transmitted?
Ransomware is a type of virus or software that usually gains access to your network by users opening a bad attachment either through corporate email, personal email accounts or accessing infected websites.
How do you pay the ransom and can you trace the money trail?
In most cases you are required to pay in Bitcoin, an Internet based currency. Despite the common belief that it’s not a real currency, believe us when we tell you IT IS. Once you convert cash to Bitcoin you then pay the ransom. These transactions are just about impossible to trace.
How do you know if you pay the ransom the attacker will actually decrypt your files?
Unfortunately, you can never know for sure. You hope they will, but there is also a chance that after you transfer the Bitcoin, they will disappear with your money and there is really not much you can do about it.
If I have a good backup I should be set, right?
In many cases that is true, but there are also variations of ransomware that will encrypt certain backup types as well.
With all the current regulations for the financial sector, HIPAA, and Law firms, etc. ransomware or other viruses can pose a huge risk in both business operations as well as liability. With these viruses constantly evolving and new ones being created every day, there are some things that you can do to further protect your organization.
- Email Anti-spam/Advanced Threat Detection Services: These services are much more than anti-spam, they will detect and open attachments, click links and verify everything is legitimate before passing it on to your email server.
- Advanced Firewall: A firewall with more advanced detections skills, not just blocking malicious traffic, but running anti-virus services as well as advanced threat detection. Thus, if an employee opens a bad attachment from a personal email address it’s immediately blocked. Theses protection methods are updating on a constant basis.
- Anti-Virus: Make sure that all of your systems are running anti-virus software and all the definitions are up to date.
- Backups: Have multiple forms of backups of your data, possibly running different pieces of software, that way if one gets infected there is a possibility it will not hit the other.
I know you’re thinking, “Oh great, more money I have to spend on IT!” and, to be frank, we couldn’t agree with you more. Chasing ransomware is the part of our job we hate the most. However, as our reliance on technology increases every day, so do the threats that are created or evolve. Therefore, in order to combat them, new technology safeguards must be put into place.
Think about this: If your data was leaked on the internet due to a virus or if your data was just plain gone tomorrow, what would that do to your business operations? What would your liability be? It really boils down to a cost vs. benefit analysis, as most business decisions do. What is your data worth to you?