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What is Ransomware?

What is Ransomware?

Of all the malicious software out there, none is more insidious than ransomware. In this post, we’ll define ransomware, look at ways you can fall victim, and how to best prevent an attack.

What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a type of malware. It has the ability to lock and encrypt a victim’s computer or device data, and then demands payment to restore access.

The earliest versions of ransomware were first developed in the late 1980s. The authors demanded payment via snail mail. Today, they demand payment be sent via cryptocurrency like bitcoin or credit card.

Ransomware Delivery Methods

Cybercriminals use several different delivery methods that may seem harmless but can easily lure you into becoming a victim. These include:

• Malspam: This is one of the most common methods used today. Typically, ransomware is delivered via an unsolicited email. The email might include compromised attachments, like a Word document or PDF. It can also contain links to infected websites. It uses social engineering to convince recipients to open attachments or click on links that appear legitimate.

• Malvertising: This method uses online advertising to distribute ransomware, often with little or no user interaction required. While browsing on a site, you can be automatically directed to a malicious or compromised server without even clicking on an ad. An exploit kit, a toolkit used to exploit security holes, evaluates your system for vulnerabilities and then can deploy all types of malware, most commonly ransomware.

Why You Should Worry

At its worst, ransomware could ruin your business. Being locked out of your own data, even for a single day, can be financially devastating. Imagine if it lasted a week or a month. What would happen? Even if you recover, buyers might become wary of giving their information to a company perceived as insecure or at risk. 

And it isn’t just large organizations at risk. Cybercriminals often target smaller businesses simply because they might not have the resources to implement extensive security. Despite many businesses feeling that they’re too small to be targeted, even a small ransom of a few hundred dollars is still profitable for cybercriminals.

Preventing an Attack

First, if an attack or ransomware threats happens to you, report it to the FBI at www.ic3.gov.

Here are some tips to protect yourself and your business.

• Educate yourself and your employees about ransomware.

• Regularly back-up your data and keep a copy safe offline.

• Install and regularly update antivirus protection.

• Make sure you keep all systems and programs current and up to date.

• Beware of any links or attachments – when in doubt, don’t open them.

Ransomware is challenging to avoid. However, taking these proactive steps can help minimize your risk of falling victim. 

If you’d like to learn more, call your Atlantic rep and ask about our Managed Security Solutions for businesses just like yours. We have the expertise to keep your data and business protected.

James LaPenna
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