Most people see reports on ransomware hitting government departments, hospitals and other big name companies. As such they think it won’t happen to them as the bad guys are just targeting the larger companies and organisations, but ransomware can just as easily infect your own computer.
What is Ransomware?
Ransomware is a type of malware (malicious software) that infects computers and then encrypts the data on the computer and then tries to spread across the network. Once infected, users can not access their files unless they pay a ransom to the bad guys! If the user doesn’t have a backup they usually have to resort to paying the ransom and the cybercriminals provide a key which may (and in some cases may not) unencrypt the files.
A lot of people wrongly assume that the bad guys wouldn’t care about your small business or home computers. But you are wrong, especially now with a lot more people working from home on their own computers.
Think about what may happen when you or your staff’s kids or partners are browsing what ever on the internet one minute and then the next minute they connect remotely to your business and work documents,
Together with phishing attempts and other compromised websites it can be very easy to inadvertently get your computer infected.
Home computers and in some cases business computers have no or basic antivirus solutions that are not up to protecting your computers from ransomware.
How to prevent ransomware attacks
Ransomware in small businesses does not grab headlines, but it is still going to be big news in your office. Any computers connected to the network that can save files between them could be infected. Now with people working from home, these connected computers can be far spread and not centrally controlled.
What Is The Biggest Issue With Malware?
The biggest issue is that your computers and mobile devices may be infected and you don’t know it. A good antivirus software that supports anti-ransomware uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to help detect and block any malware before it executes.
Some antivirus software whitelists certain computer folders such as your “Documents” folder, making it possible for only trusted applications to write to that folder.
Always Have Backups
You also need a good backup. I don’t want you to have to go through those feeling you get when you realise that all your business documents have been lost and are unrecoverable. A backup will help you recover any data encrypted in a ransomware attack or lost via other means (hardware failure, rogue employees, accidently deletion etc). Check out our other article on the best ways to backup your data – What is the Best Way to Backup Your Data? Also remember to regularly test your backups to make sure the data is there if the worst happens.
Always be on the lookout
Phishing is the #1 way ransomware infiltrates computers. Talk to all your staff about the need for vigilance and for them to also inform their families at home.
Bad guys are doing a much better job these days of mimicking reputable companies. Phishing emails will look like they are coming from a trusted company or organisation and the content is deliberately written to try and gain your confidence to open an attachment or click on a link.
Caution everyone, against opening attachments or clicking on links, especially if the email is making an urgent or emotional appeal. If they are unsure, ring the company that purports to have sent the email to confirm that it is legitimate.
Also take care of what websites you visit. Compromised websites can install malware without your knowledge just by visiting them.
Here are some ways to help you and your staff from visiting bad websites:
- stay away from known categories of websites that have issues (eg pornographic, gambling and piracy).
- beware of what sites you click on when viewing social media posts.
- train your staff.
- avoid clicking on download links.
- implement hardware firewall to stop access to known bad websites.
- implement IT usage policies.
- keep your applications, operating systems and hardware devices up to date and regularly install patches.
Want to remain ransomware-free? Check out our other articles on ransomware below. Yes, we have written a lot about this topic but it is heart breaking to see clients lose all their data, so we try and educate people to the risks in the hope that they can stop or at least reduce the risks.
Our IT experts can also help you take preventative measures. We can make sure your defences are up to date and your backups are working. Contact us today for a free no obligation chat.