How To Protect Yourself From Ransomware Attacks

Ransomware has been making the headlines recently, after cyber criminals successfully hijacked hundreds of thousands of computers worldwide.

Ransomware, which is often transmitted by email or via browser pop-ups, involves encrypting your data and threatening to destroy it if a ransom is not paid. The global cyber attack has affected hundreds of thousands of Windows computers in more than 150 countries.

Cyber criminals have generally targeted hospitals, academic institutions, blue-chip companies and even several of our GoldMine customers. The attacks highlight the challenges that organizations face with consistently implementing and applying security safeguards on a large scale.

Not only individuals, but even governments and big companies with so much to lose fail to secure their systems and properly train their employees about necessary security practices. In many cases, “cautious online behavior” would probably have prevented the malware from infecting the networks of these organizations in the first place.

If your organization is hit with a Ransomware attack, the only way to get your data back is:

  1. Pay the Ransom, usually by negotiating with the cyber criminals.
  2. By recovering your data from a proper system backup.

To me, the best option is to just recover your data from a backup.

The problem, we have seen with a few of our customers, is that they did not have proper backups in place to be able to properly recover all their data. In a few cases, the customers actually paid the ransom, and in some cases, the customers just started from scratch. What a scary situation!!

So please, speak to your IT person/people about your backups.

In the event that a hacker successfully hijacks your computer/network, you could rescue yourself with a backup of your data stored somewhere (other than your Servers/Computers/Network), like on a physical hard drive (Portable Hard Drive) or even better yet, stored in the Cloud, with the ability to recover from as far back as a few months. That way, if a hacker locked down your computer(s), you could simply erase all the data from the computer and restore it from the backup.

In general, you should be creating a copy of your data in the first place, in case your computer fails or is damaged. To be extra safe from hackers, after backing up your data onto an external drive, unplug the drive from the computer and put it away.

To be clear, I am not speaking about file backups or copying specific documents from your server/pc. I am speaking about Computer Image Backups, which are a specific type of backup that are designed for the worst case scenario, ie a hard drive failure, the computer is damaged in a flood or fire, or if the computer is infected by a Ransomware virus. Your IT person will usually wipe the entire computer and restore your Image Backup. After the restore all your programs, and files will be recovered and you’ll be able to resume business as normal.

In addition to keeping Windows up-to-date with the latest security enhancements, a good Antivirus software program can prevent your computer from being infected in the first place. Most popular antivirus systems are capable of detecting and neutralizing most ransomware. The best Antivirus software programs, are those that will automatically update their virus definitions, so that they are always up to date so it blocks the most current malware attacks.