Ransomware is a nasty from of software designed to literally ‘ransom the life of your computer’. If you don’t pay up everything on your computer and everything that is connected to your computer will be locked away (encrypted) so that it is unusable.
For individuals this may mean the loss of your photo or your accounts, for businesses it could be the entire operation of the company that is lost. If you work in an office just imagine doing your job for two months without a computer!
So what can be done to prevent the ransoming of your life or your business to these criminals ? The first step is prevention. The ransomware needs to be sneakily installed on your computer, or one computer in a network before it can do damage. If that can be prevented then the network will be safe.
This is usually accomplished by phishing emails that include a link to a website that installs the ransomware, it could be a brute force attack whereby the criminal uses multiple computers to repeatedly try to log in to your network, or possibly from an infected website that has another legitimate service to offer.
The most likely is the phishing email, it is simple and quick for the criminal to set up, so if you get an email from an address you don’t know with an attached link DON’T open it!
There are various software packages on the market that are designed to spot the sort of activity that ransomware has to perform in order to encrypt your system. Read the reviews and install one.
Consider the source of an email, does it seem believable ? were you expecting an email from that source? If in doubt, don’t open it.
If you are using a company network ensure that access to your systems is limited, apply all security patches as they are issued and control login attempts. Invest in the best firewall available and keep them up to date.
Consider the use of an off-site backup service, or at the very least a backup system that is not connect to your networked systems.
Now I can hear people muttering about the cost, but consider what the cost would be if all of your computer systems were offline for a month! Would your company survive if ALL of its data was lost?
For a private computer consider what would happen if all of your wedding photos were lost to criminals, or your bank details.
Above all be aware of what can happen and how, for companies, get your employees involved as they are the frontline when attacks happen. Know that knowledge is power, the more you or your companies employees know about how ransomware works, the better protected you will be.