Thank you for checking out the Valet Tech corner. We will be writing tech articles without all the tech jargon so you can better understand technologies and how they can benefit you.
This week we are covering ransomware. In an earlier article, we talked a little about ransomware, but not in detail. This article will go into more detail on what it is, how to prevent it, and what to do if it happens to you.
There are several variations of ransomware, but the most common is malware (malicious software) that will encrypt all the files on your computer. Your files will be inaccessible until you pay their demands. Payments are many times are in cryptocurrency and are very hard to trace, if not impossible. The average payout per machine is 10,000 USD. In 2021, the average payout for a company was 812,000 USD. If one machine is hit with ransomware, it will quickly spread if preventative measures are not in place.
There is no single software that will stop all ransomware and many companies take a multi-layered approach. They may have multiple filters on email as well as several endpoint (local computer) applications to protect. The first question that comes to mind is why would I need all of this software to protect myself or my company. The thieves that develop ransomware use toolkits and artificial intelligence (AI) to get around security software. In a given day there are thousands of variations and the chances of one of these variations getting past a single software are always increasing.
The first level of protection is a GOOD backup. A good backup is one that has been verified. We recommend having a local backup and also one in a cloud environment. A cloud backup is one that is not tied to your current network so that it is not easily accessible by ransomware. Many times local backups are also encrypted with ransomware, but we recommend them still because restoring from a local backup is much faster if it has not been encrypted.
The next level is good anti-virus software that also has ransomware prevention. These software applications, check to see if any encryption programs are running. They will shut down the encryption and save your data. You may be asking, isn’t that enough? Many of these ransomware attacks will work to shut down your anti-virus systems, or even uninstall them. Most ransomware attacks come from an email which is why we recommend email filters. These filters scan the attached files as well as links contained in an email. We will cover these scanners in the near future.
What do you do if you are hit with ransomware? Immediately call your IT support group. This is like 911, call them so they can help isolate the affected systems.