Ransomware Attack! An Insidious New Malware Threat
In recent months the new “ransomware attack” threat
has leapt onto mainstream news and for good reason
The volume of reported ransomware attacks planet-wide increased by over 800 per cent in the past 12 months ending July 2014 according to antivirus maker, Panda. Concern is such that in June of this year, the Australian Federal Police spoke to media urging local businesses to report any instances of a ransomware attack.
Also in June, the FBI made a high profile announcement of the successful “disruption” of a major, global ransomware attack ring. Unfortunately, it took less than two months for the criminal network to get back up and running in full swing.
The concept of a ransomware attack is dreadfully simple: Malware is surreptitiously installed on your PC and then takes control and locks you out, encrypting your most valuable data. A ransom note then appears on your computer – either via email or web page – demanding a ransom, or your data and applications will remain inaccessible.
In some cases, the ransomware attack demand appears to be from a law enforcement agency, claiming that the agency has been monitoring illegal activity stemming from your computer and the ransom itself is deemed a “fine”. In other variants there is no attempt to mask intent – the ransomware attack includes a threat to make future access to the data impossible.
The source of ransomware attack malware
There are numerous ways that ransomware attack malware can install onto your PC or server network. The most typical methods have been used by viruses and worms for a decade, including malicious email attachments or links.
Malware can also install via infected CDs, USB thumb drives and external hard drives.
Minimizing the risk of a ransomware attack
The chance of a ransomware attack affecting your computer system has undeniably increased in the past year as hackers have increased their attention on small to medium sized companies. Therefore, it’s crucial to take all necessary precautions to minimize risk.
The beginning place to start is with your staff. After years of discussion about computer viruses, you could be forgiven for believing that everyone is aware of the danger of clicking on unknown email attachments or web links. Unfortunately this is not the case. Periodically, employees must be reminded not to open spam emails and to be careful about the sites they visit. They must always verify the legitimacy of any communication asking them to download files, update software, or when dealing with requests that seek personal information.
Every company can benefit from a good email spam filter, web security and anti-virus solutions.
Always keep the application on individual computers and across your business network up to date and protected by the maker’s latest security patches.
Play it safe against ransomware attacks
Despite your best efforts, no amount of diligence and no single security method is foolproof. Because there aren’t any options after you incur a ransomware attack, it’s best practice to always maintain regular frequent backups of your files in an off-site location. Such backups can be as elementary as an external hard drive, or stored in a cloud solution and a function of a total disaster recovery plan.
Regardless of how your data is protected, imagine for a moment that your documents and applications have just been glommed by a ransomware attack. Now ask yourself: When was your last backup?
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