Ransomware, The Modern Extortion Scheme Used By Cybercriminals
by: Kathy David
Today, I want to talk about Ransomware! If you don’t know what ransomware is, well it’s important that you know about it. Wikipedia describes what a ransomware is best; it says” Ransomware is a type of malicious software from cryptovirology that threatens to publish the victim's data or perpetually block access to it unless a ransom is paid.” What I think ransomware is, it is the modern day cyber robbery and cyber extortion scheme.
15 years ago, if someone wanted to get money from someone, they would have to rob or burglarize many different people, businesses, or financial institutions to get at least a few thousand dollars. Today, all is needed, is access to a computer by an individual or group and they can hold you hostage by encrypting your valuable data using malware like ransomware, and to top it off, the ransom can be as low as a few hundred dollars, and some have reached up to a few million dollars ransomed in exchange for your valuable data, and all of this is done electronically.
Last week, the city of Atlanta was hit by ransomware and unfortunately for them, they are going to have to pay the ransom because even their backup was encrypted and they are unable to recover any of their files. Today, a Boeing plant in Charleston, South Carolina was hit with the wannacry ransomware, and while they are still investigating the incident, they are concerned that it will spread through other equipment and affect their airplane software.
How do you protect yourself from a ransomware attack, especially if you are a business and you rely on your data for your daily operations? The last few years, the countermeasure IT professionals have preached is this, “back up your data,” but the story I just shared about the City of Atlanta, even their backups got encrypted. So the countermeasure I recommend are the following:
1 – Find a backup provider that offers a business continuity service that has ransomware detection and prevention services built into their infrastructure. So, if for some reason, your data is encrypted, your backup files are safe, and you can quickly recover from the attack, and you will not have to pay the ransom.
2 – Contact your cybersecurity insurance provider and ask them if your cyber insurance covers you for cyber extortion. If you don’t have cyber insurance, and you have a business, it is time to make a call to your insurance broker. If your data and your backup files get encrypted, and you have to pay the ransom, you can recoup some of the financial loss with your cyber insurance.
3 – Also, make sure the anti-virus software you have on your computers, or your servers have ransomware detection and prevention built-in. Talk to you IT provider, or software provider and make sure you are protected.
Here, are software we offer our customers to protect their data from ransomware extortions:
• Sophos Antivirus software with Intercept X. Sophos Intercept X Prevents Malicious Data Encryption by All Forms of Ransomware. Get Root Cause Analysis of Exploits and Revert Your Files to their Safe States with Sophos CryptoGuard. You can purchase Sophos Antivirus Intercept X directly from IT TechPros. Call us at 760-752-8309 to get more information about this software.
• DATTO Business Continuity Service. Datto backup’s ransomware protection is the secret weapon against Cyber extortion. IT TechPros is a DATTO partner, and we can help protect your valuable data from being exploited, and held encrypted for ransom. Call us at 760-752-8309 to get more information about DATTO and get a custom quote for your company.
• Regular network and security scans to ensure all of your devices and servers are protected and managed. Regular security patches and updates are essential to make sure you are not vulnerable to zero-day attacks, and we will keep your network up-to-date. Contact us at 760-752-8309, and we can find out how we can help.
Unfortunately, there is nothing out there that is 100% secure and guaranteed. You can have all the expensive software and security equipment installed in your network. The best prevention is still being careful of where you go online, and not open any emails or attachments from people who you don’t know. If you think you have been encrypted with ransomware, shut down your computer right away, and get help from your I.T. department, or I.T. consultant.
It is a wild cyber world out there! So be safe and use your best business judgment when clicking on emails and files, and when in doubt, it is better to delete than to click!
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