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Ransomware and You...

You do NOT want to see the screen shown above to appear on your PC. No this is not a threat, but I want to share what is happening and how you can protect your PC's at work and at home.

What is Ransomware?

As its name suggests, ransomware is a specific type of malware that tries to extract a ransom payment in exchange for unblocking access to an asset that belongs to you or your business. 
In the case of crypto-ransomware–or cryptors–the ‘kidnapped’ assets are the files and data that are stored on your infected device. The cryptor encrypts your data into an unreadable form, and the data can only be decrypted by using the necessary decryption key. But that key is only released by the criminal after you have paid the ransom demand and sometimes even then, there is no guarantee that it will work.
 

The Attacks are Increasing.

In the first six months of 2015, the number of crypto-attacks equaled the volume experienced in the whole of 2014. (Source: Kaspersky Security Network)  As I post this information, I know of a business that is in the process of trying to recover from a single instance of Cryptowall 3.0.  The current estimate on the costs of recovery and impact to the business are quickly rising into the thousands of dollars.  This is why 40% of the victims agreed to pay the ransom, according to a February 2014 survey by the University of Kent’s Interdisciplinary Research Center. However, that does NOT guarantee that the decryption key will even work.  Once your money is paid, all bets are off.
 

Adding Insult to Injury 

Beware of false remedies promoted on the Internet. These may only add to your problems. Often, they don’t work and just take more money from you. Some “remedies” can even download additional malware onto your PC or network. Once your device is infected, the software will normally give you 48 to 72 hours to pay the ransom. If you don’t pay within the deadline, the price for decryption is likely to increase or even double. After a second deadline passes and the payment is still not made, it’s likely that the decryption key will be deleted. At that point it is impossible to recover your files in a readable form.  Once again, there is no guarantee that your data will successfully decrypt after the ransom is paid.
 

Protection

When it comes to dealing with the risk of a cryptor attack, you have two choices:
1 - Hope you’re not attacked. But with the increasing number of cryptors, that’s not really a viable option.
2 - Follow some easily applied rules to keep your data safe and your business operations up and running.
 

Anti-virus - Anti-malware software

Every device MUST have protection, and antivirus software isn't always antimalware software.  You need a product that has both included.  This MUST be updated often, since new crypto-attacks happen quickly.  I am convinced by what I am seeing that once a week updates are not sufficient.  Sadly, the days of the free software protecting your PC or your business are gone.  I have seen too many PC's that are running brand name software packages and are still infected.  Some of the paid software packages are not even keeping up with the onslaught of new versions and variants. The software included in our managed services software has both antivirus and antimalware and is updated every 3 hours.  However, this is only the start of your protection needs...

Backup you data

This is as old as dirt.  Backup your data.  However, in this case, any on-line backup files that the infected machine can reach, can be encrypted also.  Your thumb drive in the side of your PC is no match for this crypto-attack software.  Your 1TB hard drive connected to your PC with your lifetime of photos can be encrypted forever.  Backup is the cheapest solution to data loss.  Backup and then DISCONNECT from the network or PC and put it into a fireproof safe.  

Critical data backed up to the cloud with version control will provide you the ability to recover your data.  However, the less sophisticated backup software simply writes over the older data, and your backup is useless.   Continuous backup software will be unlikely to protect you since the files are encrypted and then backed up.  Recovery is only possible with an earlier version to restore from.  Our backup solutions from EMC provide version restore for maximum recovery ability. This is proven technology.  

Train your employees

 Train your employees about IT security basics, including:
• Awareness of phishing and spear-phishing risks.
• The security implications of opening any email attachment that looks suspicious–even if it appears to be from a trusted source.

Email protection

Email is one of the main ways of infection with a crypto-attack. Email scanning services that filter your email before it arrives in your inbox is very beneficial.  I highly recommend this service.  

Web protection

This is web site filtering software that prevents accessing known dangerous website locations. This will also assist your business in avoiding infections.  This service can be adjusted to your business needs.  

Protect your business now.  The cost of cleanup is too high! Contact NSCS.biz and get your business protected today.

 

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