Prevent, Don’t React – Advice on How to beat Ransomware by S-guard24-Mar-2017
Ransomware can be very scary – the encrypted files can essentially be considered damaged beyond repair. But if you have your system properly prepared for such an attack, it is really nothing more than a nuisance. Our friends at S-guard have given us some advice on avoiding ransomware that we thought we would share with you.
Crypto ransomware, in all its guises, is a form of computer virus. It encrypts data on PC’s, laptops, tablets and servers. It then locks the computer, demanding payment from the user to release the device and unencrypt the data.
It is not a malicious prank, it is big business, carried out by cyber criminals, and it is immensely profitable: And it is on the increase.
Whilst antivirus software does offer some protection, the makers are constantly playing catch-up; leaving an organisation’s computers, its networks and especially its data, vulnerable to attack.
Some organisations have not survived the loss of their systems and data.
A ransomware infection means;
- Temporary or permanent data loss
- Restricted or total loss of access to systems
- Disruption to your work whilst systems are restored
- Harm to the organisation’s reputation and/or credibility
- Possible financial loss
In all cases, the means or method by which the malware accesses the system is the result of the action, or inaction, of a computer user: This is known as the Attack Vector.
But, by taking a few simple precautions, there is much that computer users can do to prevent one of these viruses infecting their systems.
So, how can you recognise an attack vector and avoid a data hostage situation.
Emails and Downloads
Threats, when they arrive seem innocent, they can come through email, or internet downloads and one click can let a virus into your system which can infect the entire organisation.
Here is a safety checklist for suspect files or downloads;
- Do you know the sender of this email?
- Is the email from someone you trust and doesn’t just look like someone I trust i.e. not from amazen.com or facebok.com?
- Does it makes sense that this was sent to me?
- Do you have a good reason to click a link within the email?
- Is the attachment is one you are expecting?
- Does the email, its contents or sender seem odd or unusual?
Other suspect indicators include emails that threaten to close your accounts or cancel your cards if I don’t provide information: Any genuine bank or similar organisation would NEVER request such delicate information by email.
Another example is an unexpected order confirmation, a shipping receipt or a delivery tracker.
If you have any doubts, don’t click - just delete the email.
Websites and Pop-ups
Another common vector is a hijacked website, these are very difficult to spot, the best advice is to stay vigilant, if it sounds too good to be true - it probably is.
Stay with trusted sites and don’t fall victim to scams from banners like “You’re a winner – click here to claim your winnings”.
Beware popup windows asking you to supply information or to install software you did not request – just close them.
Use bookmarks, hackers often create pages close to commonly used sites (amazen.com, gogle.com or facebok.com).
Bookmarking your most used websites helps to avoid typing the wrong address and ending up somewhere you don’t want to be.
Your antivirus will update itself, however, listen to it: if you get a warning of a possible threat, report it to your antivirus provider or your network administrator – with as much detail as possible if you think you’ve been infected, they normally have the latest details on how to prevent ransomware attacks or provide a solution.
Even unplugging the network cable help stop any infection from spreading.
The recent rise of ransomware attacks has created a lot of breathless news coverage, possibly because it is not a conventional method in financially motivated malware.
Ransomware can certainly be frightening, but there are many benign problems that can cause just as much destruction.
That is why it has always been, and always will be, best practice to protect yourself against data loss with regular backups. That way, no matter what happens, you will be able to restart your digital life quickly.
If anything good can come out of this ransomware trend, it is an understanding of an importance of performing regular, frequent backups to protect our valuable data:
Finally, stay informed. Try to educate yourself on how to detect phishing campaigns, suspicious websites, and other scams.
And above all else, exercise common sense: If it seems suspect, it probably is!
S-guard Ltd are specialists in providing robust and reliable IT, cloud services and hosted phone systems to businesses of all sizes.
Drawing on over 20 years of experience in delivering IT and, more recently, cloud-based solutions to a significant number of organisations, S-guard’s experience and knowledge is considered to be one of best in the industry.