When we worry about cyber security, we imagine an invisible hacker has infiltrated the system and is silently stealing valuable financial, personal, and proprietary information. Today’s cyber crime is a lot less sophisticated. If you’re attacked by ransomware, you’ll know it immediately. Ransomware is the number one concern for small business owners as well as international corporations. The good news is that with the right security measures, you can easily protect yourself from an attack.
Ransomware by the numbers
Almost every industry known to man is vulnerable to ransomware attacks. A report on the prevalence of ransomware released by Osterman Research in August of 2016 found that 39% of the organizations surveyed in the United States, Canada, Germany, and the United Kingdom had fallen prey to ransomware attacks.
Of the countries surveyed, 79% of U.S. companies reported some form of cyber attack or security breach in their system, whether from ransomware, malware, or hacking.
The most vulnerable industries for ransomware are the healthcare and financial industries, but no industry is exempt from threats of ransomware attacks.
The basics of a ransomware attack
Ransomware will infiltrate your laptop, desktop, tablet, and smartphone. You’ll wake up one morning, make your usual cup of coffee, sit down with your preferred device, and start reading the morning news, or emails, or checking Facebook and Twitter before the day begins. However, as you turn on your device, you’re met with a jarring message asking you to pay up or lose all of your vital information.
Ransomware attackers will either hold all of your files and data hostage until you have paid the ransom, or they may threaten to release sensitive information if you do not pay the specified amount within the specified time. Ransomware can block you from using your entire network, encrypt certain files, or block access to your applications.
Applying stranger danger rules to avoid a ransomware attack
We teach our kids about stranger danger. Now we need to apply those same rules to our online activities.
The typical stranger danger scenario that we teach our kids is an unmarked van with a couple of strangers luring your kid with a basket full of puppies and candy. When it comes to ransomware, the scenario is very much the same. Attackers are creeping along the information highway, phishing for victims with clickbait headlines like “Naked Halle Berry Gives Candy to World’s Most Adorable Puppy!” However, it’s not as random as you might think. Most ransomware criminals have been watching you and your business for a while, so they know what may spark your interest online, as well as make sure that you will and can pay the ransom. Once the target clicks a malicious link, the damage is done. The virtual van doors slam shut, and you no longer have access to your computer, your data, or your network. So, while you’re giving your kids the stranger danger lecture, make sure you pay attention and apply the same rules to your online activities.
- Don’t open emails from strangers
- Don’t get suckered in by malicious links with catchy headlines
- Don’t visit suspicious or fake websites
Secure your network and your devices
At OnePointSync, we provide IT solutions that will protect your business from becoming a victim of ransomware.
- Backup your data – Should attackers take hold of your files, having a backup means you never have to pay a ransom.
- Update your software – By always using the latest version of your software, you can stay one step ahead of ransomware attacks.
- Get firewall protection and anti-malware – Good cyber security measures will help identify suspicious and malicious online behavior.
Talk to an IT expert about how you can be smart, be secure, and avoid getting caught by ransomware attacks.