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November 16, 2017

The Basics of Ransomware: What You Need To Know

How a MSSP Can Defend Your Organization from Ransomware

Since 2016, a major surge in ransomware attacks has affected both individuals and organizations on a daily basis. Ransomware use has become increasingly accessible, and therefore reports of attacks are only continuing to rise. Cyber criminals rely on these types of attacks to exploit user vulnerability by blocking access to personal files and providing an encryption key only if a hefty ransom is paid. 

Digital storage is a modern method of record-keeping, but it also puts every individual and business operation at risk. For instance, in May 2017, WannaCry ransomware became one of the most high profile cyber attacks in history, infecting 230,000 computers in over 150 countries around the world. The wide spread attack occurred in a very short period of time, withholding critical data from institutions, such as hospitals that rely heavily on these records to save patients’ lives. 

Fortunately, while ransomware will continue to impact users, there are several proactive steps you can take to protect your computer systems. One of your best defences is to work with a MSSP to help manage your IT security and mitigate risks that threaten the well being of your organization.  

5 Basic Ransomware Facts

Before you can effectively deal with the fallout of a ransomware attack, you must understand the basics. Here are 5 facts that will help to increase your knowledge, reduce anxiety, and keep your information safe: 

  1. How it Works – Ransomware works by invading your computer and encrypting files on your hard drive. File encryption blocks your access to this data and criminals will typically threaten to delete it or release your personal information to the public unless a Bitcoin ransom is paid. Ransomware may infect your system through phishing scams or, in the case of the WannaCry attack, by exploiting open and unsecured networks.
  2. The Attackers – Cyber criminals conduct their schemes from locations all around the world. However, ransomware hackers typically work out of countries with accessible Bitcoin markets and those that do not enforce strict cyber security laws. Additionally, ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) makes cybercrime easily accessible to anyone with malicious intent, regardless of their programming skills. RaaS is operated by experienced criminals who author a code, and offer it to others to download and use. Criminals may provide the ransomware for free or charge a small fee and take a cut from each successful attack.
  3. Who it Affects – Ransomware attacks are wide spread. Cyber criminals target both small and large corporations, regardless of industry. However, hospitals have been involved in some of the more recent and high profile attacks since they are more likely to give in to the demand for ransom in order to restore services that are responsible for the lives of sick and innocent individuals. Furthermore, users on their home computers are also at risk.
  4. Paying a Ransom – Ransomware is an extremely effective way to steal money from individuals and corporations who are desperate to regain access to their sensitive files. Before giving into criminal demands, it is important to assess all of your options and make a decision that is best for you or your organization. However, it is advisable not to pay the ransom because there is no guarantee it will unlock your data.
  5. Preventing an Attack – Cyber attacks can strike at any moment but there are steps you can take to protect your information. For instance, always keep a back up of important files in a different location, train employees on best practices, install the latest security updates, and ensure that you have a plan in place if you are faced with a security threat.

Preventing Cyber Security Problems with a MSSP

Cyber crime is on the rise, and your organization is vulnerable to a ransomware attack if you do not enforce security measures. With over 25 years of experience, GlassHouse Systems provides you with the most advanced IT infrastructure products and services. We understand how frequently data breaches can occur, and will provide your business with the best security programs to help defend against these external threats.

TAGS: managed security, MSSP, ransomware, basic