Ransomware…How do you fight it?

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Ransomware, a vile part of the computing world, is a sophisticated virus created by extremely competent and tech-savvy criminals. Some of them wouldn’t call themselves as such, they prefer the term provocateur, or hacker, but what they do with their knowledge and skill is immoral and bottom line become criminal. When your computer is taken hostage anything on it becomes accessible to the hostage taker, including personal information. Hackers have emptied entire life savings through these schemes or destroyed years of work and I have little tolerance for anyone that would mindfully cause this kind of harm to another human being.
Hence the series of posts about malware, viruses, and most recently Ransomware. As a company one of our values is to see our customers succeed in whatever they do. Therefore we take a dim view of those who would be a hindrance to your excellence and success and will use all of our resources to prepare you for the safest computing experience possible. Even so, we can’t control your computing to completely guarantee you a malware free experience so let’s take a quick look at how you can best avoid Ransomware.

What can you when your computer is attacked with Ransomware? The easy answer is nothing. Turn it off and take it to your trusted IT professional…like CSI Onsite. To disable it requires the help of equally knowledgeable professionals. The biggest challenge to recovering the infected data has been the process of breaking the code of how the data is scrambled so it can be deciphered. Depending on what has happened we have a few courses of action to take. We have a number of tricks up our sleeves, but we will probably use one of our data recovery specialist if you haven’t followed our constant recommendation of having a fault tolerant system.

Numerous US authorities are trying to curb the problem by issuing warnings concerning the real threat to data and ransomware’s ability to undermine the operational and financial wellbeing of businesses. Companies should not only listen to the warning, but also do their part to thwart attacks. This includes backing-up files and not sharing personal information or files when prompted to do so by malware. Also think about encrypting important data.

Adopting and diligently following common sense, routine security measures is another way to protect  a company/person’s data without making it difficult to recover (virus scanning, firewalls, penetration testing,  and  consider using adware or a popup blocker.) As a company you may also want to schedule scans of what employees (CEO to the Custodian) have been viewing and clicking online. We don’t normally recommend this at great frequencies unless there have been extreme cases of multiple infections.

Suspected attack has occurred, immediately check to see if all data is backed-up. If the back-up fails, find a data recovery expert who has the tools and experience to assess the seriousness of the attack. Remember, never share data and never make any payments – you’ll never get your money back, you’ll make the scammers richer and your computer will remain locked.

There is also no antivirus software to fight this malware at the moment, which is all the more reason to be vigilant. Louis Pasteur once said “Chance favors the prepared mind.” So be like the Boy Scouts of America “Be prepared” and stay vigilant and you should make it through your week without engaging the nasty we call Ransomware.

Sheriff Guist

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