Protect Your Business From Ransomware Attacks

Posted on: May 10th, 2018

In 2016, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center received 2,673 complaints of ransomware with losses of over $2.4 million.* One large hospital in California paid $17,000 to regain control of its files after being unable to access them for 10 days.** Attacks are on the rise, with hospitals and small- to medium-size businesses especially vulnerable.

What Is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a type of malware that can infect a computer when a user clicks on a malicious link in an email or on a website. The malware encrypts files on the device and any others linked to it through a network. Users are locked out and receive a message from the cyber thieves to pay up in order to get access to their files.

What to Do?

The best course is to focus on prevention:

  1. Make sure employees are aware of the danger of clicking on links. Enforce rules to never open a suspicious email attachment, run an unauthorized program or download an app not verified with an app store.
  2. Enable strong spam filters to help prevent phishing emails (phony emails made to look like legitimate ones) from getting through.
  3. Have strong security systems in place, such as firewalls and anti-virus protection, and keep them updated.
  4. Keep software up-to-date and install recommended patches immediately.
  5. Manage the use of accounts so that employees have access only to the files they need.
  6. Back up all data regularly on a device not attached to the network.
  7. Plan how to notify employees of an attack, clear infected computers and restore files to the network from the back-ups.

To Pay or Not to Pay?

If you do get attacked, the FBI recommends not paying the ransom. You may not get the files back anyway, and it encourages future attacks. However, that may not be practical if your business cannot function. Robust security, user protocols and back-ups can help prevent ransomware attacks from succeeding.

* Source: FBI.gov, “2016 Internet Crime Report.”
** Los Angeles Times, latimes.com, Feb. 18, 2016.