Ransomware: could you be blackmailed by hackers?

5th January 2016

clip_image002[87]Ransomware is one of the most recent threats to your online security. We look at what it is, how it works and how you can protect your business effectively.

What is it?
Ransomware, as the name suggests, is a form of malware which locks away a victim’s files and then requests payment from them to have them returned.

In 2013, Cryptolocker attacked around 250,000 computers worldwide stealing personal files and refusing to return them unless a ransom was paid immediately, which a high amount of victims went ahead and did.

Ransoms are paid through a digital currency such as Bit coin, which allows transactions to be made anonymously.

How does it work?
Ransomware finds its way on to electronic devices the same way as most malware and computer viruses, through infected emails, malicious software and websites.

Typically, the Ransomware will then take over a user’s computer and will display a pop up which informs the user that their files have been encrypted and that they must pay a fee (usually in bit coins) within a certain time period or their files will be deleted.

It might also take the form of constant annoying pop-ups which fill the screen until payment is made, or alternatively files may be removed from the user’s PC with the promise that they will be returned after payment has been made.

How can I protect my business?
With many businesses choosing to keep all their files and data online, a Ransomware attack could be completely devastating, risking the loss of important and sensitive information.

However, while it might be tempting to make a payment should any of your systems be compromised, you should avoid it as this could encourage further attacks and bribery. Also, even if you do make a payment, there is no guarantee that your data will be returned.

Ransomware can be removed through system restores and accessing your device in safe mode so that an anti-virus programme can identify and safely remove the malicious malware from your computer.

There are however steps that you can take to prevent falling victim to Ransomware attacks in the future:

1 – Ransomware is commonly spread through emails. Install anti-virus software that blocks malicious files before they reach your inbox.

2 – Limit the number of people on your system who can modify your network drives.

3 – Avoid losing important data by regularly backing up your files to offline and cloud based storage.

4 – Keep your anti-virus software, firewalls and software patches up to date so that they can react to the latest internet security threats.

Here at ECL we have extensive experience in protecting businesses against the latest malware, computer hacks, viruses, spam, phishing scams and other threats and can advise you on the best methods of protecting your business. For more information please, please call us on 01268 575300 or email us on info@ecl.co.uk

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