According to a recent report published by McAfee Labs, ransomware will remain a major and rapidly growing threat throughout 2016. The number of known ransomware attacks doubled to more than 5 million by the third quarter of 2015 from the previous year.
What exactly is ransomware?
Ransomware is malicious software that allows a hacker to access an individual or company’s computer system, encrypt sensitive data and then demand some form of payment to decrypt it.
Ransomware essentially lets hackers hold a user’s data or system hostage.
In recent news…
You might have heard about last month’s ransomware attack at a hospital in Los Angeles. Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center paid $17,000 on February 5th to a hacker who was holding their computer systems hostage.
The hackers demanded 40 bitcoin, the equivalent of $17,000, in exchange for their medical records. Demanding cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin, helps keep the attackers identity concealed because there is no traceable bank account attached to the transaction.
Some departments within the hospital had to completely shut down at the time due to its heavy reliance on technology.
The malware locked their operating systems by encrypting files and demanding ransom in exchange for the decryption key. In this case, the quickest way to regain access to their network was to pay up. Unfortunately, this is what the hospital did in order to restore normal operation.
This is just one of many malware attacks we have seen in the media targeting businesses.
Think your safe using a Mac? Think again.
The first widespread ransomware attack on Apple computers was just announced in the first week of March 2016. According to Bloomberg Business an estimated 6,500 Macs were infected with malicious software designed to make files inaccessible to the owners of Apple desktops and laptops.
Apple’s OS X software has for the most part always been off limits to hackers. This is in part due to their advanced software security. That is until now. Cyber security experts say that the art of hacking Apple software has always been attractive to these attackers because of its exclusivity. It was just a matter of time until they were able to learn the vulnerabilities within the operating system.
The recent attacks on Apple OS X follows the ongoing legal battle between Apple Inc. and the U.S. government in which the government is asking Apple to decrypt information on an iPhone that belonged to a terrorists in the most recent attack in San Bernardino, CA. Apple is on the defense seeking to strengthen the security of their devices and protect the identity of their consumers, even in a criminal investigation.
These hackers performing the ransomware attacks are looking for fast cash. They are targeting businesses who heavily rely on their technology to run day-to-day operations.
Why? Because each minute that passes without being able to operate is costing the business money. Therefore, they are more likely to give in and pay the ransom as quickly as possible in order to restore operations.
What would you do if your businesses computer network was held for ransom?
Would you have the funds to pay up?
Or would you have the time to wait on an investigation to begin if you didn’t have the funds?
You probably answered ‘no’ to both of those questions.
How prevent this from happening to you:
Backup Your Data
A great way to prevent a major ransomware attack from ruining your operations is to have an offsite backup of your systems data. Performing regular updated backups-whether they be performed on a daily or an hourly basis.
Having a backup plan lets you rest easy knowing that files can be easily recovered and restored. Consider cloud solutions for data backup. Not only are they easily accessible when working remotely, but they serve as a great backup solution.
Update Your Software
Malware hackers heavily rely on targeting those running on outdated software with known vulnerabilities. Some vendors such as; Microsoft and Adobe, release security updates on a monthly basis. Having the latest software updates in place can significantly reduce your chances of being attacked. If possible, enable automatic updates to run so that you can be sure to never miss an update.
Use a Security Suite
If you are dealing with any type of sensitive information such as; banking and credit card accounts, social security numbers, billing information, medical records, etc. It is imperative to have a security suite in place to prevent any of this information from leaking into the wrong hands. Installing both an anti-malware and a software firewall is your best bet. Having both of these in place you’ll be able to identify any threats or suspicious activity.
Applying these 3 simple steps to your personal or your business computer systems will greatly reduce your risk of an unwanted attack.
As a leading managed service provider in South Florida- Netcom Solutions prides themselves on taking preventative measures to avoid any harm or threats to our client’s computer systems before it becomes an issue.
Don’t take our word for it, check out what our clients have to say.
Contact us if you would like to receive further information on how Netcom Solutions can help improve the efficiency of your IT infrastructure in the Miami and Fort Lauderdale area.