What is it and how can it affect you?

Unlike traditional computer scams that infect your device with a virus to gain access to personal information, ransomware encrypts your files so that you can no longer access them. The cyber-criminal then charges you a fee to recover the locked information.

Just like other cyber threats, ransomware attacks are getting more advanced. The programs used by these criminals are faster and smarter than ever before, finding and encrypting large amounts of information in record time. In addition, skilled hackers are finding more ways to access your files and breach your network. They can even destroy your backup files so that the stolen information becomes more valuable to you, the user, making you more likely to pay the ransom.

So how do you protect yourself from this growing threat? Having strong anti-malware protection is a great start. Followed by, restricting user access and privileges and making sure that anyone who uses your network has up-to-date security training. Having an informed team that knows the signs of these attacks continues to be your strongest line of defense against cyber criminals.

No matter how prepared you might be, mistakes can happen. If a computer or network-connected device is compromised, below are several suggestions from security experts:

  • Ransomware, at a minimum, can find and encrypt any files that a compromised user can access. If a user doesn’t need access to a shared folder, restrict it.
  • Backups will be your only way out if ransomware encrypts large amounts of data. Critical backups should be kept offline, and accessible out of your network.
  • Make sure you know what to do if you are a victim of ransomware. These attacks can be devastating and far reaching, making even basic response tasks difficult. Develop a plan for your team and test it, if possible.
  • Similar to backups, make sure copies of critical documentation, response plans, and essential tools are also kept offline. You don’t want your response plan encrypted and inaccessible when you need it most!
  • Finally, if you find you have been compromised by ransomware, time is of the essence.  Disconnect the device from the network and contact a security professional immediately.

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