Ransomware - how to prepare and avoid Ransomware attacks

The latest development in tools for online predators to extort information or money from users comes in the form of Ransomware. 


What is Ransomware and how does it work?

Ransomware is a malicious software that gets installed on your machine(s) and begins slowly encrypting all your files. 


Once a user tries to open a file that has been encrypted by this program, an interface appears demanding payment to free your files (decrypt), otherwise, the encryption key will be deleted forever and your data will be irretrievable.


How does Ransomware get installed and how can that be avoided?

Ransomware is often hidden as neutrally named attachments, in email or web-based java applets or alongside other applications. Users are unaware that they're installing the application.

  1. GOOD BACKUPS
    the only way to truly protect from data loss is to be able to RECOVER data when something bad happens; malware, hardware failure, accidental deletion, natural disasters or human error.
    1. Sign-up for alerts to make sure that your backups are running. How to use the backup2cloud Monitoring and Alert System 
    2. Login to our web portal and navigate to your Devices page to check the last backup dates for all your machines. 
      1. If necessary, you can manually initiate a backup from the Dashboard or reconfigure backup set and schedules from the Dashboard. 
    3. Run a test recovery - testing your backups via test recovery is the best way to know that you DO have all your data. 
      1. If you can't recover, you can still browse your backups and make sure that your important folders/files are there. 
  2. EMAIL SECURITY 
    1. According to security experts, the biggest distribution of Ransomware (as of March 2016) is through Javascript attachments sent in spam email.  
    2. Admins must be proactive in filtering incoming messages and use security programs to prevent users from mistakenly opening malware. 
  3. ANTI-VIRUS (AV) 
    1. Anti-virus programs are a great way to avoid known issues, even if a user is not. 
    2. It's critical to make sure that your AV is up to date with the latest definitions or your users could still be at risk. 
  4. ANTI-MALWARE 
    1. Anti-malware programs are built to deal with malware AFTER it gets onto a machine. 
    2. Good malware programs will have pro-active monitoring of your system to identify potentially risky programs or behaviours, even if there is not yet a known definition. 
  5. GOOD BACKUPS 
    1. Seriously, even if your mail security, AV and anti-malware fail, your backups will be your final option to avoid paying costly ransoms to protect your data. 
    2. Security guru and expert Bruce Schneier has always promoted the importance of 'good backups' as the most important piece of any IT framework because it IS your last resort and not all issues can be prevented.