The rise of attacks using Ransomware has had major implications for users and businesses throughout the world. This was highlighted in the attacks that took place 12th May 2017 using WannaCry malware when the attack crippled the UK NHS, Russian interior ministry, Spains Telefonica, China’s PetroChina and the US’s FedEx were all affected. In total, this malware attack affected 300,000 computers across 150 countries.
What is Malware?
Ransomware is malware that encrypts files or entire networks and demands a payment is made before your data is released. If you do not pay within a specified time-frame the ransom demand goes up and if you still do not pay it is deleted. Although there are many instances of companies paying and never getting their data back. Typically payment is made using Bitcoins, this is a digital currency. Bitcoin uses peer-to-peer technology to operate with no central authority or banks; managing transactions and the issuing of bitcoins is carried out collectively by the network. Bitcoin is open-source; its design is public, nobody owns or controls Bitcoin and everyone can take part and this is why it is attractive to this type of criminal as they cannot be tracked or traced.
Ransomware is spread by an infected attachment, phishing email or it enters the computer by USB or download. If you are a Ransomware hostage turn off your computer immediately, unplug your network and alert your IT manager.
How can you protect against Ransomware attacks?
- Ensure you take regular backups of all your data
- Create a disaster recovery plan that ensures your critical systems are recovered first
- Check backups for errors and alerts
- Perform periodic restores of your computers
- Teach users of opening suspicious documents or unrecognised senders
- Keep multiple copies of your information in different locations i.e. File Server, Cloud, Tape, Off-site
- Check you are backing up the correct types of data and information
- Always update computers to the latest recommend patch version
- Upgrade your computer to the latest operating systems
- Install reputable anti-virus/malware scanner
- Learn more – Click here to Wikipedia
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