Learn to prevent and respond to ransomware

Blog Alias todayOctober 14, 2020 193 3 5

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Ransomware has been a problem since 1989, and it’s not getting better.

In fact, every eleven to fourteen seconds, a new company falls victim to this problem. Ransomware costs organizations around $20-Billion annually. But it’s not just a company problem, individuals fall victim to this threat as well. You need to know what to do!

Ransomware is advanced, hard to prevent, and even harder to remove. There are multiple ransomware variants, including: CryptoWall, Cryakl, Scatter, Mor, CTB-Locker, Fury, TorrentLocker, Lortok, Aura, Shade. Not to mention, new variants are always in development.

Alright, but what does ransomware even do?

Most of these ransomware attacks encrypt or remove files. This makes the data completely useless to the owner. In other cases, the damage can be more extreme and bring down entire networks and computer systems. And if that’s not bad enough, after your business has come to a halt, the attacker demands money. Even if you do decide to pay the ransom, there’s no guarantee you’ll get your data or systems back online.

Well what’s the FBI think about all this?

Similar to not negotiating with terrorists, the FBI’s position is that you should not pay a ransom demand. There’s no guarantee your information will be returned or decrypted. It may even encourage attackers to continue try other targets or attack you again later. To the hackers: you already paid once, so you could pay a second time. The FBI does recommend reporting ransomware or other criminal activities. You can report to your nearest field office or submit an IC3 form to the Internet Criminal Complaint Center.

Hope you’ve backed it up

If you find your files encrypted or deleted, well, we hope you have good backups. It’s strange to think that the best response to a sophisticated ransomware attack is the same thing you hope for if you ever lost your phone – the backup. If you have a copy of the data on your network, you can take that backup and continue working close to where you left off. That is, if you’ve updated your backups recently. Of course, if you don’t have a backup, you have a couple options. You can either start from scratch (highly unlikely) or you can hire experts to try decrypting or recovering deleted files. Both options are painful and expensive. Do yourself a favor, make a backup.

So how do you prevent ransomware?

The best prevention is still good cyber hygiene. Use a reputable end-point protection tool (antivirus software) and keep it updated. In fact, make sure all your systems are patched and up to date. Staying up to date will reduce the chances that your computer or server are hit with ransomware.

Are you an organization?

Platforms dedicated to preventing malware, phishing, and spam from getting into your company exist. You probably have advanced firewalls and internet filters that limit exposure to malicious sites and contents.

Or an individual?

You don’t have as many options as a business does. But, you can still add security to your email and web browsers by using a reputable antivirus tool.

Stay aware and educated

Reading this blog and educating yourself is one of the best ways to prevent ransomware attacks. If you provide training to your employees and family members, they can be safer too. We hate to say it, but they are usually the first attack point for hackers. Bad people know that humans make mistakes and humans are curious. They take advantage of this because they have to get their ransomware into your environment. And if you have technical security, then the people become the weakest link. So, invest in yourself and your people. Your people are your best chance at minimizing damage.

Don’t worry, you’re not alone

Hopefully, this information helps you stay safe and prevent a ransomware attack. If not, know you are not alone – the list of ransomware victims continues to grow. In fact, it includes: Honda, Mitsubishi, Garmin, Konica Minolta, Diebold Nixdorf, BlueScope Steel, Magellan Health, University of California, Michigan State University, City of Knoxville, Jordan Health, Xchanging (a subsidiary of DXC), Fort Worth Independent School District, Texas Department of Transportation, Travelex, Cooke County TX, North Miami Beach Police Department, Telecom Argentina, SiteOne, VT San Antonio Aerospace, Pitney Bowes, New Bedford, MA, Lake City, FL, Jackson County, GA, Albany, N.Y., and many more!

So, how much will you pay?

Ransomware isn’t going away. But you’ll pay a lot less if you’re prepared. Invest now to improve your security monitoring, testing, awareness, and overall posture. You’ll pay less in the long run.

Alias cyber security company logo

Alias is a cyber security and digital forensics firm dedicated to improving the security and protection of communities, businesses, and individuals. Our core services include security testing and assessments, monitoring, incident response, and digital forensics.  

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