The Importance of Backing Up Your Data (and How to Defeat Ransomware)

08/08/2017

Ransomware payments for 2016 are expected to hit a billion dollars, according to the FBI, in comparison to just $24 million paid in 2015. And, it’s expected to get even worse this year. Big and medium-sized companies are more attractive extortion victims since they can pay a bigger ransom, however, an IBM report says small businesses are also at risk because their employees often lack training in workplace IT security. The study found that only 30 percent of the 200 small businesses surveyed offer security training to their employees, compared to 58 percent of larger companies.

What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a family of malware the blocks access to a PC, server or mobile device, or encrypts all the data stored on that machine. It’s typically delivered via malicious email or infected third-party websites. To regain access or control of the data, the user must pay a ransom – typically via bitcoin. The encryption is unbreakable and simply removing the malware will not solve this problem. The victim is forced to pay for the unique software key that will unlock everything. Malwarebytes reports that 60 percent of all malware last year was ransomware.

Experts warn businesses not to pay ransomware because it encourages this activity and there is no guarantee that the systems and data will be restored. Digital Trends reports that “The hotel almost learned this the hard way, as the cybercriminals attempted yet another attack after the ransom was paid. That attempt was only thwarted by the installation of new hardware.”

How do you protect yourself from ransomware?

  • Don’t open attachments from an unknown sender. IBM found that nearly 40 percent of all spam emails sent in 2016 contained ransomware. Be particularly careful with zip files and images that you did not download. If you see a new image or graphic file on your computer that you don’t recall downloading, do not open it.
  • Make sure your data is being backed up daily. Ask your IT service team to confirm if the location where your data is being saved is backed up to avoid and uncertainty about whether your data is safe.
  • Reassess your data backup and restoration process. If you have not been told by your IT team ho far back backups go, then test it out: create a test file, allow for it to be backed up and then delete it. Wait a week or two and ask for it to be restored. This should clarify the scope and history of the backup in place and allow you to review the process for requesting a file to be restored.
  • Disable these macros. IBM reports that document macros are now a common way to deliver ransomware, so macros for email and documents should be disabled by default.

proactive way to protect your data is to hire a remote management service that will secure your servers and enable effective firewalls. Telx Computers is one of the top IT support companies in Miami, specializing in protecting your data. Our systems can detect invasive software far before it lands in your computer. Don’t let Ransomware happen to your organization. Call 1-800-698-3594 today for more information.