The viruses and spyware that we used to fear, lurking on the horizons of businesses, are being overshadowed by the latest trick to be pulled out of the cybercrime hat. This new threat, ransomware, is a kind of malware that effectively kidnaps your company data and holds it until you agree to pay a ransom for its return. Frequency of ransomware attacks are on the rise, and it’s usually hacked websites and infected email attachments that spread them.
What is Ransomware?
A ransomware attack will often involve the malware rooting through any data to be found on your network, and will then present you with a warning message notifying you of your dilemma and offering you a solution – for a pretty hefty fee. Even if you did feel compelled to fall into the trap, the fee usually totals somewhere around £300, which can only be paid using untraceable bitcoin – and were you to try and report such a crime, it is likely you would not get far.
Unfortunately, the majority of victims of ransomware fall prey, and elect to pay the ransom rather than to attempt to get their data back, which only spurs the criminals on further. Ransomware threats, such as Locky, CryptoWall and CryptoLocker have stolen hundreds of millions of pounds from their victims, and are set to make a lot more in the future.
Can You Reverse Ransomware?
Because falling victim to a ransomware attack is unlikely to end in satisfactory resolution, the obvious answer is taking preventative measures. So what can be done to prevent such malware sneaking its way into your vital company data?
- First things first, get business-grade anti-virus software for all company computers and devices
- Pick up a Unified Threat Management (UTM), which acts as an effective barrier to infections at the threshold of your network
- Make sure you put both on-site and off-site backup solutions in place
- Ensure that staff are well-educated on the risks of suspicious web links and email attachments, and that they have limited access rights to computers and networks
So, if you weren’t prepared, and have been caught out by a ransomware attack, what can be done to remedy it? Unfortunately, there are only two options available, and if you hadn’t already backed up your company data, then make that one option available. Short of recovering your stolen data from backup, the only thing that can really be done is to pay the ransom. It hurts, but you may even find that some ransomwares are programmed to encrypt backups as well as main data. This goes to show why preventing ransomware is so imperative to the safety of your company and its data.