Ransomware is the number one hacking tactic in use today that has recently grown by 300%. Found out by Trend Micro to have infected the cloud multiple times, companies are trying to learn from other’s mistakes and build up their defenses. Here’s what you need to know about what Ransomware is and how to prevent it from infecting your network.
What is Ransomware?
It is simply a type of malware that stops or limits users from accessing their computer system. It will take control of your system for an amount of time and will not give you back control until you pay a ransom. Of course, there is no guarantee you will actually get your data back if you pay the fine.
Ransomware is placed into a computer network through three means: visiting a malicious website, being tricked into downloading an email attachment, or be placed by another already existing malware. The most common method is through an email attachment or email link.
Once infected, ransomware takes control of your computer system by either locking your screen or encrypting files with a specific password.
How can I prevent ransomware from infecting my network?
Double/Triple check who the email sender is
First and foremost, check the legitimacy of bank-sent or outside finance department-sent emails. Remember, you cannot rely simply on an ongoing relationship as email signatures, account names, and even tone of voice in text can be imitated. As stated by a top engineer at FireEye, these emails can look highly legitimate so you have to be cautious at all times. Just quickly check with your bank or your contact that it’s a legitimate message.
Fact-check message content
If someone says they are messaging you because they recently received something from you, simply check your sent items. This is the easiest and fastest way to make sure you aren’t being lured into opening a malicious email. Also make sure you are extra cautious about email’s you didn’t expect to receive.
Avoid clicking links in email
Because links can say one thing and lead you to another, try your best to avoid clicking them as often as possible. Type the URL directly into your browser if you know the link is safe instead. This way you can avoid visiting a site that could potentially drop some harmful malware into your computer cache.
Update software whenever possible
Older software has more openings in its defense to attacks – it’s as simple as that. This isn’t extremely high on the priority list for most companies but it does help to bolster your defense with an extra layer.
Keep important data backed up
No, don’t backup into a flash drive or some other easily corruptible device. You need a powerful back up facility where it is not at risk of infection if your main network is infected. This is incredibly important as there are some encryption tools hackers are currently using that cannot be decrypted. What we personally recommend is to have three copies of your data and have one version of it off-site.
Make sure you have an email scanner running at all times
Scanning attachments and links for viruses or malware before they even hit your inbox is the most effective way of stopping malware in its tracks. This way, even human error can be almost eliminated from the equation when dealing with ransomware. Unfortunately, hackers create new methods for breaching scanners as time goes by, but it is few and far between that they will get past a quality email scanner.
Find out more about how to handle ransomware here.