If you’re like most business owners, you are constantly thinking about threats to your valuable data and client information. There are a slew of ways your computer system can be accessed and damaged, like viruses, spyware and malware—but you already knew that! One form of malware, ransomware, is perhaps not quite as well known among mainstream computer users… but it can be an especially big pain to remedy.
Ransomware is a type of malware that steals access to your computer files—that is, you are unable to use your computer to perform necessary functions. It can also encrypt your company data, making things like client information, report numbers and other information virtually useless. Unlike many forms of malware, which completely destroy your information, ransomware allows you to get it back… but not without paying a hefty cost. Like its name would suggest, ransomware requires victims to actually pay off the attacker to receive access to their information.
You may not think many computer users or business owners would follow through with paying the attacker—after all, wouldn’t paying just increase the likelihood that the ransomware strikes again? But when it’s your information on the line, people will pay—as shown in recent cases. A police department in Massachusetts recently paid around 500 dollars in Bitcoin to get its information back, and more cases likely go unreported very often.
So, should you pay the ransom? The ransomware might have put your business at a standstill, but think about this: there is no guarantee that once you pay the requisite amount, you will receive access to your information. Granted, the ransomware likely would follow through, just because by not doing so they risk credibility with future victims (although it certainly seems crazy to use “ransomware” and “credibility” in the same sentence!). But by paying the ransom, you also give the ransomware the power to attack others—even you—in the future.
As you can see, when it comes to the “to pay or not to pay” decision, victims are certainly placed between a rock and a hard place. They either lose their information and important files, or risk themselves (and others) being targeted again in the future. Because there’s no easy solution once your files have been encrypted or stolen, the best thing to do is protect your computer preemptively. You can do this by:
· Backing up your files regularly
· Ensuring that your backup system actually works like it’s supposed to
· Making use of updated anti-malware software
· Exercising caution and not opening unfamiliar links or attachments
· Educating employees about how to stay safe on the network
· Limiting employee access to the network
· Limiting the amount of applications and programs you use
No one wants to be the victim of ransomware—and, as we mentioned, there really is no easy solution if you’ve already been affected. By following the tips above, you greatly limit your risk of being a victim. And remember—if you and your business need assistance or advice when it comes to installing anti-malware software or otherwise securing your network, please don’t hesitate to give us a call!