There’s a new way to take hostages and it doesn’t involve your pets. Hackers now find a way onto your computer systems and hold your entire digital world for ransom. Unless you pay X amount of dollars by a certain time all your information is going to be deleted and you’ll lose that paper you were working on for your class or all your customer’s personal data will be made public. It seems no one is immune to these attacks but that doesn’t mean you have to be afraid of them. It’s important to know what to do to prepare and prevent ransomware from infiltrating your system and accessing your information:
You’ve likely heard all about “crypto ransomware,” or simply “ransomware,” a specific type of malware that attempts to hold your digital existence hostage by encrypting personal files and then offering decryption keys in exchange for payment. When the malware first takes root, it shows no outward signs that anything is wrong. Only after the malware does its nefarious work in the background are you presented with the ransom, typically via demands for Bitcoin or other forms of digital currency.
Some early ransomware was riddled with software bugs that made it possible to recover encrypted files that had been held hostage, but newer variants that use robust symmetric and asymmetric encryption are much more troublesome. (Symmetric encryption is typically used to rapidly scramble files, and the asymmetric encryption can then be applied to the original symmetric keys so data can only be recovered by cybercriminals with the appropriate private keys.)
Some of the latest ransomware variants are also designed to punish payment procrastination, and they double or triple their ransom demands as stipulated deadlines pass. The ransomware threat is very real, but proactive individuals and organizations can protect themselves.
Protection against ransomware attacks all about backups
Fortunately, it is relatively easy to duplicate corporate files, and regular, systematic backups are an effective strategy to combat ransomware. Of course, backups are useful only if they’re created before a malware attack, so it’s a good idea to immediately and regular backup important files.
Unfortunately, simple file backups aren’t always enough. Some backup implementations are vulnerable to crypto malware, and backup archives can also be encrypted by cybercriminals. Some cloud-based file synchronization services replace good files with corrupted versions. So the capability to roll back to specific points in time for data recovery, and the duration of time backups are stored — as well as the amount of time and resources it takes to access stored files — should be crucial considerations for people and organizations that want to prevent ransomware complications.
There are three specific strategies that the article mentions such as using dedicated backup software, NAS backups and cloud backups. It’s important to read each strategy and determine which one works best for your life or business. You can prevent ransomware attacks if you are proactive instead of reactive.
Don’t get caught between a rock and a hard place. Cover your butt. Your home life and your business will thank you for it.