Technology is constantly evolving. As the world becomes more connected, more people are trying to take advantage of unsuspecting individuals. Ransomware is the latest threat to individuals and businesses. Recent ransomware attacks haven’t been limited to small computer networks; large corporations are being targeted by the malware. Use this quick guide to learn more about ransomware, preventative methods, and what to do in the event of an attack.
What is Ransomware?
Ransomware is a type of software that is stealthily installed onto a computer. The software works by shutting down all major computer functions. The user is greeted by a screen that provides payment instructions. The hacker holds the data on the computer hostage until the payment is made, usually in bitcoins or gift cards.
Ransomware doesn’t always display a message about unlocking the data. In some cases, ransomware will mimic government or company pages, instructing the user to pay money in order to avoid legal action. While these messages can be very intimidating, there are ways to release the data and regain access to the computer.
Why Companies are Concerned with Ransomware
Like most malware and computer viruses, ransomware tends to spread quickly on networks. If one computer is locked down and encrypted, it isn’t long before every computer the company owns is affected. Once this happens, companies are forced to pay the hackers a set fee to unlock each computer. This can add up to thousands of dollars.
Companies aren’t just concerned with the financial aspects of ransomware; hackers can easily gain access to the company’s most sensitive data. This puts the company and their clients at risk. If no backup data exists or it is corrupted, the company may lose all of their records, software, and other important pieces of information. This damage can be very costly to repair.
Should You Just Pay the Hackers?
Some people think that the simple solution is to just pay the hackers. Most of the ransomware attacks that are covered by the news describe the amount the company or individual pays to unlock their computer. This can lead some people to think that if they pay the hackers, their problems will go away. The truth is that this is not always the case. Hackers and criminals have no motivation to actually unlock your computer. While there is a chance that the computer could become unlocked, paying the hacker may put you at risk for additional attacks.
Preventing Ransomware Attacks
There are several ways to help prevent ransomware attacks, but no methods are fool-proof. For example, most ransomware targets are using Windows devices; however, that doesn’t mean Apple users aren’t affected. Older devices are at a higher risk, especially if they don’t have any security software installed.
Ransomware tends to exploit loopholes and bugs in operating systems. Most devices offer automatic updates to help make sure the latest patches are installed. This can help defer hackers and make it harder for ransomware to make its way on to the device.
In addition to upgrading your device, you should also be very cautious of how you use the Internet. Downloading files from unknown sources or visiting websites with automatic downloads has always been risky.
Minimize the Effect of Ransomware
Ransomware can be devastating to an individual or company. There are some measures everyone should be taking, whether they feel they are at risk or not. For example, creating a backup of each device on the network can be a lifesaver. Invest in both external hard drives and cloud-based storage. Then, backup the device every few months.
If your computer is part of a large network and you notice suspicious activity, disconnect from the Internet immediately and talk to a technician. This can help prevent malware from spreading to other computers within the network. If you are greeted by a ransomware screen, don’t click on anything and let the IT department handle it.
Know When to Get Help
Ransomware affects individuals more often than it affects companies. Individuals won’t have access to company IT departments, but there are services that can help. Third-party support companies can provide help near you. Do not try to fix the problem yourself if you do not have IT experience. This could make the issue worse. Instead, contact a professional immediately to discuss the best solution.