Ransomware: Is your Business at Risk?

Ransomware: Is your Business at Risk?

You may have the latest firewall and virus protection, but if you are not aware of the latest forms of ransomware, your computer and network could be at risk. Ransomware is a type of malware that, once downloaded, encrypts your files and makes it impossible to access your own network. You'll have to pay the hacker a hefty ransom to regain access to your own files and network.

A school district in South Carolina recently made headlines after a ransomware attack locked them out of their files. The district was unable to break the encryption and ended up paying a $10,000 ransom in bitcoin to the hacker. Educational organizations, healthcare facilities, and legal offices are prime ransomware targets, but private individuals and small business are at risk as well. Learning more about ransomware can help you protect your information and ensure you do not become a victim. A few of the most recent and troublesome ransomware examples are detailed below.

Cryptolocker: Also known as CryptyoDefense or CryptoWall, this ransomware uses a phishing email message to trick users into downloading malicious software. Cryptolocker can target your network via computers or your mobile devices, and once you or an employee runs the attachment, the malware begins encrypting your files. Cryptolocker was first spotted in 2013 and continues to wreak havoc on unsuspecting victims.

Locky: New in 2016, Locky takes a subtler approach and asks users to enable macros in an attached document. The document may be a shipping confirmation designed to trigger curiosity, and will look like it originated with a legitimate company. Once you enable macros, the malware attachment begins to download, taking over your device.

Bart: Bart adds all of your files into an archive that is protected with a password; in order to open the newly created .ZIP file holding your data, you'll need to pay the hacker a ransom. Bart is less common than Locky or Cryptolocker, but since it only compresses your files and hides them on your own system, it can impact your computer while it is offline.

Petya: Rather than encrypting or compressing individual files, Petya holds your entire system for ransom. When you try to start your computer, you'll only see the ransomware screen directing you to pay for a decryption key. You'll need to use another device to pay the ransom and regain access to your files.

Protect your Business from Ransomware

The above ransomware examples are just the most common scams out there; hackers come up with new and different ways to steal your data on a regular basis. The best way to protect yourself against ransomware is to be aware of the ways in which a hacker could seize your system, and to be wary of email links and attachments. If you have employees, they also need to be aware of the risks associated with phishing emails and attachments; any worker with system access could put your entire network at risk.

Performing regular backups of your system can also help mitigate your risk; if you back up your data to an offsite location, you can be sure that ransomware can't cut off your access entirely. In the event of a ransomware attack, you'll have the option to restore your files; you won't have to pay the hacker any money to release them.

Learning more about the different types of ransomware and being aware of the techniques hackers use to seize your data could help protect your business from this growing risk.