What is ransomware?

Ransomware stops you from using your PC. It holds your PC or files for ransom.  Imagine a message popping up that tells you “all of your Excel Spreadsheets will be automatically encrypted in 24 hours unless  you pay a ransom”  This is not some movie nightmare.  This is happening now and with increased frequency.  Emboldened by cryptocurrency to cover their tracks and encryption technologies, cyber criminals are attacking what matters to you – your critical data and files.  Engineering drawings.  Your personal photo collection.  Data that you care about and need.  The kind of data that if destroyed could destroy a business.  Some versions of ransomware are called “FBI Moneypak” or the “FBI virus” because they use the FBI’s logos.  One thing is for certain, you will know that you have been hit.

Figure 1. Screen Shot – Ransomware Attack

What does it look like and how does it work?

There are different types of ransomware. However, all of them will prevent you from using your PC normally, and they will all ask you to do something before you can use your PC.  They can:

  • Prevent you from accessing Windows.
  • Encrypt files so you can’t use them.
  • Stop certain apps from running (like your web browser).
  • They will demand that you do something to get access to your PC or files. We have seen them:
  • Demand you pay money.
  • Make you complete surveys.

Often the ransomware will claim you have done something illegal with your PC, and that you are being fined by a police force or government agency.  These claims are false. It is a scare tactic designed to make you pay the money without telling anyone who might be able to restore your PC.  There is no guarantee that paying the fine or doing what the ransomware tells you will give access to your PC or files again.

 How can you mitigate the risk?

  • Have security software installed and most importantly up to date with a current subscription. Remember with the thousands of new malware variants running every day, having a set of old virus definitions is almost as bad has having no protection.
  • Make sure all the software on your system is up to date. This includes the operating system, the browser and all of the plug-ins that a modern browser typically uses. One of the most common infection vectors is a malicious exploit that leverage a software vulnerability. Keeping software up to date helps minimize the likelihood that your system has an exposed vulnerability on it.
  • A key component of mitigating the Ransomware risk is to have a solid backup set for your company data and files to restore from in the event of a Ransomware attack.

InfraDMS can help you prevent and recover from an attack

InfraDMS can provide you with current infrastructure and a backup solution that includes off-company network storage, archived offline storage or both.  Having a secured offline backup ensures that the data cannot be accessed by anyone until you need it.  Reach out to us today!