There was an article that came out this week written by the previous CIO of the New York City Law Department (which is also the world’s largest public sector law firm, fun fact), discussing the best ways to avoid ransomware. In the article he discussed 3 key points:
- Cyber Hygiene: This is an obvious one but cannot be underrated! Passwords must be changed regularly, and everyone must remain diligent while browsing their inbox.
- Best practices: Best practices in this context covers updating existing tech, using preventative technologies, and communication. To have the best practice for updating existing tech, put a priority on pushing out patches, use cloud web application firewalls and credential monitoring to stay a step ahead with preventative tech, and communicate with your security team and employees about what they should be doing as individuals and as a team.
- Testing disaster recovery plans: This point is self-explanatory, you need a test to see if your backup plans work. You wouldn’t leave the fire alarms untested!
With ransomware being seen all over the world from Atlanta to Moscow to Sydney, it is something every business should take into account.
Small businesses are under attack. Right now, extremely dangerous and well-funded cybercrime rings in China, Russia and the Ukraine are using sophisticated software systems to hack into thousands of small businesses to steal credit cards, client information, and swindle money directly out of your bank account. Some are even being funded by their own government to attack small, virtually defenseless businesses.
Don’t think you’re in danger because you’re “small” and not a big target like a Target or Home Depot? Think again. 82,000 NEW malware threats are being released every single day and HALF of the cyber-attacks occurring are aimed at small businesses; you just don’t hear about it because it’s kept quiet for fear of attracting bad PR, lawsuits, data-breach fines and out of sheer embarrassment.
In fact, the National Cyber Security Alliance reports that one in five small businesses have been victims of cybercrime in the last year – and that number is growing rapidly as more businesses utilized cloud computing, mobile devices and store more information online. Quite simply, most small businesses are low-hanging fruit to hackers due to their lack of adequate security systems.
As a local IT support company, we work day and night to protect our clients from these attacks – and unfortunately we see, on a regular basis, hardworking entrepreneurs being financially devastated by these lawless scumbags – We are determined to WARN as many businesses as possible of the VERY REAL threats facing their organization so they have a chance to protect themselves and everything they’ve worked so hard to achieve.
Free Report Reveals The Critical Protections Small Businesses Need Today
We want to do everything that we can to stop cybercrime, so we have put together a FREE Executive Report titled “7 Urgent Security Protections Every Business Should Have In Place Now” that we have made available at no charge here on our website at www.databranch.com/sittingduck.
Download your free Report today at www.databranch.com/sittingduck or by calling our office at 716-373-4467 ext. 15.
Over the past few months we have had a few clients come to us with the same problem, their computer is locked and they can no longer access their important files or applications. Databranch has been able to help all but one recover their systems. The difference between the clients we could help and the one we could not is backup. This is why we emphasize the move to business continuity and our preferred solution, Datto, to all customers and prospects. It’s that important. When we have succeeded against this newest strain of malware, the victims have all had a recent, comprehensive backup to restore from.Below I will breakdown what ransomware is, ways to prevent it, and how to take back your computer if you happen to be hit.
What is Ransomware?
- Malicious software (Malware) that infects your computer and restricts access until you pay a ransom to unlock it.
- Common strains are CryptoLocker and CryptoWall
Signs That Your System has Been Infected
- Any prompt asking you to pay money to decrypt your files. One common reason the attackers give for locking your machine is that you have done an illegal activity on your PC and are being fined by your local police force or the federal government. Always remember that these are false claims attempting to scare you into paying the ransom and that reputable organizations would never work in this manner.
- Increase in pop-ups especially concerning your anti-virus or memory usage.
- Sudden changes in your computer speed. If you turn on your computer one morning and it’s running much slower than the day before you should investigate what’s causing the changes.
Should I Pay the Ransom?
- NO – There is no guarantee that paying the ransom will make the criminals hand over the key to your files and by paying you may be allowing them to gain greater access to your system and strengthen their attack.
How Can I Prevent Ransomware?
- Have a business-class anti-virus installed and performing regular updates on your server and computers. We recommend Symantec Endpoint Protection Cloud Edition.
- Keep all software up to date. Applying updates as soon as they become available is imperative to keeping the bad guys out. When you wait because you’re too busy or don’t want to deal with possible changes or a computer restart, you leave your network exposed because the most common reason patches are released is to fix security flaws in your programs.
- Make sure your business has a firewall installed on your network and that it is turned on at all times. Having a firewall defending your network is a great first step to block out hackers and viruses. (Want Databranch to manage your anti-virus, Windows updates, and firewall? Click here to learn about our managed service offerings!)
- Avoid clicking on any links or attachments from unknown senders. If you receive an email from someone you know and regularly communicate with and it looks suspicious, trust your gut and reach out to the sender before opening anything from them.
- Be wary about what websites you visit and what software you download. Recently, ransomware has been found in advertisements on popular sites like Yahoo and oftentimes the “free” software you find online is riddled with malware.
- Prepare for the worst and implement a backup solution that stores your data off-site and is not directly attached to your device. Click here to learn more about Databranch’s recommended backup solution.
My System has Been Infected! What Should I Do?
- Turn off your computer
- Disconnect your computer from the network.
- Contact Databranch or your IT service provider. Ransomware is continually evolving and becoming more destructive. Databranch can help remove the malware from your system and restore your data from your most recent backup.
Have you experienced a ransomware attack? Share your story or ask any questions in the comments below!