Ransomware Is as Bad as It Sounds for Your Company’s Computing System

Just as you might suspect, any compound word that contains “ransom” is bad news. Ransomware is every bit as bad as it sounds, and works much like ransom in any other context and is an especially vicious type of “malicious software that cyber criminals use to hold your computer or computer files for ransom, demanding payment from you to get them back.”

An August 2016 article in Fortune magazine reported that nearly two-fifths of companies in the U.S., U.K., Canada and Germany have suffered “ransomware incidents” over the past year. Further, of the 80 percent of companies that suffered any type of cyber-attack, 47 percent of those were ransomware attacks.

Sometimes called “authors” of such attacks, these cyber-criminals use this increasingly popular form of malware to demand money from companies, and even private computer users, knowing that most entities and private citizens rely heavily on their computer system to store valued data and will pay for that data’s return.

Ransomware

Protect Your Company’s System from the Growing Criminal Trend of Ransomware

Regardless of your industry—everything from hospitals, police departments, online casinos, the U.S. Congress, airlines and airports, and more—this multi-million-dollar criminal malware could easily latch onto your organization’s system if you do not prepare for potential attacks. Last spring, Wired stated that cyber-criminals are choosing ransomware system hijackings over “the classics” like stealing credit card numbers and bank account information and credentials since the scheme has proven so profitable and successful for cyber-thieves.

You are not helpless against this particularly bad brand of cyber-crime. Like any other threats, ransomware simply requires that you learn as much as possible and work to stay as many steps as possible ahead of ransomware specialists. Keep in mind that ransomware is most likely their full-time job, so it is critical that you direct your IT team to stay vigilant.

A Brief History of Ransomware

One of the best ways to combat your enemy—especially in the cyber-sphere—is to get to know your enemy better. While antivirus experts have worked tirelessly over the years to help computer users stave off all varieties of malware, it is not surprising that the ever-resourceful cyber-criminal element has worked overtime for alternative ill-gotten revenue streams. As always, they rely on infiltrating your computer and information, in any way possible, to steal “their funds.”

The result of all the hard work from antivirus experts fighting against classic cyber-crimes like credit card fraud has, unfortunately, resulted in a highly profitable crop of computer infections, known collectively as ransomware. More specifically, these encrypted viruses are known as Cryptolocker, Cryptowall and TeslaCrypt. When Cryptolocker first arrived on the scene in 2013, it was a shock to the digital world, creating a deluge of paralyzed computers in every sector. Computer hard drives around the globe were locked down, and users only saw banners demanding a fee to return their treasured data.

Worse still, and adding insult to injury, cyber-criminals found ways to tie PC attacks to users’ mobile phones via the Android operating system. Even a few users on the ordinarily highly virus-resistant iOS system suffered attacks.

Unfortunately, and as ever, cyber-criminals continue to work to hone their dark craft, but the more you and your IT team try to keep up with their tactics, the better you can fight them.

Add Key Strategies, Measures and Programs to Keep Ransomware Criminals Out of Your System

As you work diligently to protect your organization’s network system and to keep data secure, it is important to keep in mind that ransomware is a particularly challenging foe in the world of cyber-malfeasance. Ransomware practitioners are especially relentless in their pursuit of extracting fees for releasing your rightful property back to you, so work to find any and all of the best strategies, measures, programs, and outside consulting professionals in antivirus protection to help you, starting with the following:

Backing Up Data Is Critical

The most common—and easiest to follow and least expensive—advice in avoiding ransomware vulnerability is to back up your data. Your corporate data backup policy—as a part of your information security policies—may not keep cyber-criminals out of your system, but it can help prevent your organization from falling prey to a cyber-extortionist’s high-dollar demands.

Offer Special Employee Training

Since computing and data storage has become the lifeblood of most companies, there really is no such thing as taking too much precaution. Offer training courses to reinforce smart and proactive online behavior that includes never opening email from unknown or unreliable sources, never downloading mysterious attachments in questionable emails, and only visiting trusted websites.

Invest in and Install Antivirus Software

Research antivirus software that includes a key function called “sandboxing,” which isolates new software and suspicious files that may go undetected by traditional antivirus software and end up missing malicious encrypted files that are so prevalent in ransomware. By sandboxing these mysterious new files, you can protect the rest of your system in case the new files are harmful. However, sandboxing is time-consuming and may incur additional overhead. Another antivirus option you may consider might include a feature called heuristic analysis, which picks up on suspicious activity, such as encryption of files, and stops it in its tracks.

What to Do in Case of a Ransomware Attack?

Cyber-criminals never stop working the angles to infiltrate your organization’s system, so even with every precaution, you may encounter an attack. As an IT professional, you know that the first and best thing to do is to reboot your system in safe mode, if possible, and explore the problem. Execute one of the ransomware-specific removal tools available.

Staying Alert and Proactive Are Important Tools When It Comes to Ransomware

The dark markets that practice ransomware tactics are not going anywhere, and they keep devising new tricks to invade computing systems. Your best defense is a solid set of policies for your company’s employees, managers and executives to follow, to the letter.

I.S. Partners, LLC. can help you prepare an easy-to-follow information security policy manual that lays out all the risks of ransomware and how to avoid it to protect your organization. Call us today at 215-675-1400 so we can help you start forming your defense system against ransomware.

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