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What is ‘Ransomware’ and how do I stay protected from it?

Ransomware is a type of Malware which encrypts the files on your PC and essentially locks you out of using your PC or accessing your files, it is designed to hold your files as hostage and only let you access your files again once a payment is made in bitcoins, Bitcoins are an anonymous crypto currency that only exists virtually on the internet, The fact that Bitcoins require no personal information to start using them and the rate of adoption within internet users make it a prime payment option to Cyber-Criminals.

The number of reported incidents involving ransomware over the last couple of years have been rising on a rapid scale so we decided to create this post to inform small business’s/start-ups & end users on how to stay protected from this nasty little malware.

Ransomware is a great scheme for cyber criminals to get rich and a lot of the black hat hackers are finding new and ingenious ways to get past your Anti-Virus & install this evil piece of software on your computer.

Typically, the hackers ask for a sum of money between $500 – $10,000 to decrypt your files and gain access to them again, if you do not pay up within the specified time that is displayed on the screen then the ransom increases.

 

Consider the following steps to avoid becoming a victim of Ransomware.

  • Don’t Open Word Documents Sent Via Email from Untrusted Sources.Word documents can be edited to include malicious pieces of code which can download the virus to your system once opened, stay clear of opening any word documents sent to your email unless you are 100% sure that it is legitimate
  • Keep Your Software & Windows Versions Up to Date.

    The best way to protect your system is to install any updates/patches from the developers, this ensures that any bugs/exploits found within the software is fixed.
  • Back Up All Your Files.Keep all your important files backed up to an external hard drive or backed up into the Cloud (Dropbox, OneDrive etc.) Mapped network drives can also be encrypted and locked with certain types of Ransomware so make sure the backup is not connected to the PC.
  • Invest In Security.One of the best ways to block connections to the hacker’s system is to purchase a Firewall & have an Anti-Virus & Anti-Malware software installed on your system. We would recommend (Symantec Anti-Virus & Malwarebytes)
  • Educate Your Staff/Colleagues.The best way to prevent any virus’s being installed on your network is to educate your staff or colleagues on how to detect phishing emails & suspicious websites, this will ensure that your staff do not mistakenly open an infected email or document.

 

What to do if you’re infected?

If you have a recent backup of your files, then you are in luck as you can open the backup on a different PC that is not infected and see if it has been infected with any malware/virus’s or not.

The next step would be to run a virus/malware scan on the infected PC and clean any traces of virus’s/malware.

We would recommend you to wipe and re-install the system OS on your PC to ensure that no traces of malware are left on your system and it is completely clean.

If your backups are showing up as clean then after wiping your computer clean of the virus’s you can restore the backup.

Jake Simpson

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