Ransomware Is Rising - Are You Prepared?

Why did you get into the business you’re in today?

  • To help people
  • To make a difference
  • To change the world

We all have something inside that pushes us into our careers. We stay with a job for what it brings to our lives.

Yet unless you’re in IT and love digging into code, chances are you’ve never had a desire to deal with the problems that security breaches present.

According to Proofpoint’s State of the Phish report for 2021, 75 percent of respondents stated that they were impacted in some way by ransomware during this past year. That’s up 14 percent over the previous year. And if you’re suddenly faced with a security issue such as ransomware, you’ll deal with it whether you want to or not.

What is ransomware?

Ransomware is a form of malware that encrypts the target’s files. Once it gains control, the hacker demands payment before releasing the data back to the target.

There’s no mistaking ransomware. You’re shown instructions for how to pay the fee and how you’ll receive the key. Payment is often a few hundred into the millions of dollars, and is most often paid to the cybercriminal in the form of bitcoin payment.

Ransomware is not a simple phishing scheme that a hacker uses to gain access to a few dollars. The use of malware has turned into a multi-billion dollar enterprise that impacts business all across the world, in every industry and niche. And thanks to the disruption of 2020 that caused most workers to work remotely for extended periods, it’s only increasing in the level of destruction.

While the most significant loss from dealing with a ransomware attack is monetary, it quickly extends beyond. Your initial outlay of funding may regain control over your data, but it escalates from there. Because the cybercriminal found a way in, it’s important to seal the hole and rebuild your systems more securely. It can impact your reputation, and cause a public relations nightmare.

The faster you act, the better chance you have of recovery.

How to prepare for fighting a ransomware attack

Ransomware digs into your computer files and holds the data captive. Different ransomware attacks are handled in different ways. Being aware of how ransomware attacks your data, can help you recognize it early:

  • File encryption - ransomware can encrypt many different data types, including photos, videos, documents, and others.
  • File renaming - once ransomware enters your computer, it renames the data as a way of gaining control.
  • Extension altercation - it alters the extensions of your data and changes it into unknown characters.
  • Ransom note - if a breach reaches this point, it reveals itself as a ransom note and locks you out of your data. It works for a set period of time, and only releases the data if you pay the fee.
  • Spreading to the network - another common way of identifying ransomware attacks is if you notice problems throughout the network. Ransomware is good at moving locations and infecting other devices within the local network.

Like every aspect of security, training is everything. If you teach your employees what to watch for, they’re more likely to recognize potential problems early, giving you the possibility of stopping a breach before it impacts more data in the network.

Recognition is a great start, but it’s equally important to create a strategy to deal with potential problems from beginning to end.

Ensure you stay up to date on all the latest software releases, including security patches that address the latest vulnerabilities.

Backup data regularly. If you don’t have a system to do this frequently, this should be one of your first steps.

You should also have a disaster plan that creates a team to monitor your systems, and is ready to go in the event of a problem.

The more you plan for an attack, the better prepared you’ll be in the event it happens.

You don’t have to go it alone. Instead, you can have an expert security team by your side, creating a secure environment that’s ready to fight back in the event of a problem.

All you have to do is ask.

For IT Strategy, Cloud Conversion, or Help Desk Services reach out to us at Silver Linings Technology 360-450-4759.