Viruses are becoming not only increasingly sophisticated but increasingly destructive. It used to be that if you were infected with a virus or malware, you were at risk of having your files copied and perhaps accounts compromised. With the advent of ransomware, hackers have found a way to directly monetize hacking and can do much more damage than malware of the past. Here is how it works:
Ransomware is a class of malware that prevent users from accessing their data, usually by encrypting their files and holding the decryption key. The encryption is strong enough where if you have been infected, your options for getting your data back are 1) pay the ransom or 2) restore your files from backup. The malware will not only infect your computer but any connected network drives or external drives, making the malware quite devastating.
A study from BitDefender estimated that $325 million dollars in ransom has been paid over the last two years as a result of this type of malware. Paying the ransom emboldens and funds these hackers for future attacks and enhanced attacks. There are few security experts who believe the threat level will decrease in the coming years. Most believe it will continue to increase, largely funded by paid ransoms.
If you or your business does not have a solid and reliable backup system, you will be forced to consider paying the ransom as so many people and businesses before you have done. Don’t be part of the problem! Make sure you have adequate backups for your data so that you can fight back and not be a victim.
Who is at risk? Everyone who uses a computer. Even those with the latest security patches and updated anti-malware solutions can be infected. Mac user? KeRanger is a variant of ransomware specifically designed to attack your system. More recent versions of ransomware have infected users through their web browser using vulnerabilities in Adobe Flash. Early versions relied on the user to click an infected email attachment. Now a user can be on the Internet, even on reputable sites like nytimes.com, msn.com, bbc.com and many more, and become infected through compromised ads according to a recent publication from Malwarebytes.
There is a high stakes game of cat and mouse going on between the hackers and security firms. As the security firms find ways to block the malware, the hackers find ways to circumnavigate the changes. You, as the computer user, have a responsibility in this fight as well. Be aware of good security practices like “do not open email from unknown users” and “do not open attachments you are not expecting, even from known users.” It cannot be overstated that you need to ensure your data is backed up, so in the unfortunate event that you get infected, you can simply clean your system, restore your data and avoid becoming part of the problem.
Businesses should be aware that there are additional steps that can be taken to prevent these types of ransomware malware that go beyond traditional anti-malware solutions. This malware initiate the encryption from a protected area and they can be stopped with the proper precautions. We strongly recommend putting these measures into place to prevent ransomware from executing, thus saving your critical business data. There is an escalating battle going on today between hackers and security. We encourage you to proactively take part in the battle to protect your data or you may become a casualty of the battle when you least expect it.
To protect your critical business data, contact Colden Company at 888-600-4560, email us, or see us on Facebook or Twitter.