Urgent: Ransomware strikes again

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Bob Milliken
Bob Milliken

Over this past weekend, the world experienced one of the most severe ransomware outbreaks in history, with businesses of all sizes, in over 150 countries impacted. As ransomware becomes a household name, one thing is for certain: Global cybersecurity has reached a moment of emergency.

We have a war on our hands.

The landscape of ransomware attacks is changing. When the malicious software first hit the internet a couple years back, it did so in a big way, primarily targeting large hospitals, insurance companies or other health-related businesses. These high-profile attacks temporarily paralyzed a number of companies, many of whom opted to simply pay the ransom to get their files back instead of wrestling with backup systems.

While those companies are still being targeted, this year, for the first time ever, hackers are beginning to go after individual targets with the software with devastating impact.

While it’s true that the payday for locking an individual user’s PC or smartphone is orders of magnitude smaller than a large corporation, the reality is that individuals are woefully unprepared for such an attack. They are much more likely to pay the toll to regain access to their files.

To compound the problem, fully one quarter of individual users don’t make any sort of backup of either their PC or their smart devices. Would that be you? This means that if they are hit with a ransomware attack, literally their only chance of getting their files back is to just pay the fine and hope for the best.

Your Take Away ….

RansomwareThere are a couple of important lessons to be learned here.  First and foremost, if you don’t currently have a backup plan in place for your computer assets, you should probably make one, starting now. AND, you MUST stay on top of all patch releases and apply them quickly.

To guard against ransomware in general:

  • Back up regularly and keep a recent backup copy off-site. There are dozens of ways other than ransomware that files can suddenly vanish, such as fire, flood, theft, a dropped laptop or even an accidental delete. Encrypt your backup and you won’t have to worry about the backup device falling into the wrong hands.
  • Be cautious about unsolicited attachments. The crooks are relying on the dilemma that you shouldn’t open a document until you are sure it’s one you want, but you can’t tell if it’s one you want until you open it. If in doubt, leave it out.
  • Be sure to use an antivirus system which stops ransomware in its tracks by blocking the unauthorized encryption of files.

This is just the beginning of ransomware attacks in 2017. Let’s get your business ready for what’s to come. Call me today if you are concerned about your computer security and I’ll take care of the rest.

 Bob Milliken is the TheITguy@CascadiaSystemsGroup.com specializing in helping businesses with their IT needs. Discover how great local IT services can be.  604.270.1730.