Ransomware is malicious software that hijacks your system or data until you pay a ransom to online attackers to get it back.
Symantec estimates that attackers can make $5 million or more a year through ransomware. This is because some business owners prefer to pay what might seem a relatively small fee to get their data back as quickly as possible. Attackers also often cover their tracks by asking for ransom money to be paid in Bitcoin.
According to Tech Republic, some of the top ransomware programs from last year include NotPetya, WannaCry, Locky, CrySis, Nemucod and Jaff, among others.
Security companies have developed ‘vaccines’ or other types of software to counteract some types of ransomware. Unfortunately however, hackers continue to develop new ones all the time.
This means it’s important to always take a few precautions to protect your business:
- Cyber security – practice good general security by using separate logins and passwords, frequently changing passwords, implementing computer access restrictions and avoiding visiting unsecured websites.
- Computer backups – doing regular backups (for example to the cloud or an external drive) ensures you have a second copy of your data in case of loss or corruption. In the event of a ransomware attack, you can re-install your operating system and restore your data from the backup rather than pay the ransom.
- Protective software – up-to-date virus scanners from a reputable cyber security provider can make your system more resistant to attacks. It’s also important to keep your operating system up-to-date.
- Ongoing vigilance – this includes not opening email attachments from unfamiliar sources or responding to those that ask for financial information.
It can be risky out there in the online jungle – so make sure to always keep your eyes and ears open while using the internet! You should also consider cyber insurance cover for financial protection in case of system failures, data loss or corruption, and virus attacks.