Ransomware: What is it and Why is it Costing Businesses Big Money?

Ransomware is another hot topic when it comes to Cyber-crimes. It is on the news (WannaCry, NotPetya), on the movies, and on security experts’ minds! What is ransomware and how does it infect computers. These topics are important ones if you strive to understand the safety and security of your business, data, and finances.

What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a form of malicious software (also known as malware) that once established on your computer, threatens you harm by taking over your data. Once in charge, the data on your computer is typically encrypted and cannot be reversed without a specific, complicated, mathematical key that only the attacker knows. Sometimes the attacker solely holds the data ransom (hence ransomware), but other times the data is used as a form of extortion. To recover your data or prevent a leak of data, the attacker typically requests a predetermined untraceable payment (typically bitcoin.)

How does it get on your computer?

The most common method that attackers use to get malware on the computers of their victims is through a phishing scheme. (Not sure what phishing is…check out our past blog.) Another method, but not as common, is exploiting security holes, many times by port scans (see the previous blog) and infecting computers without even needing to deceive the victims.

How to Prevent Ransomware?

Unfortunately, there are no guarantees when it comes to cyber-crimes, but there are some basic rules to follow to keep your business as safe as possible.

  • Don't click on suspicious links or open attachments in suspicious emails
  • If you get any emails/alerts from Microsoft (OneDrive), these are usually a phishing attempt
  • If you didn't request a password reset, don't click on a password reset link
  • If the email you receive/link/attachment is legitimate, you shouldn't have to input personal information, CC information, billing information, passwords, etc.
  • If something is prompting you for personal information or credit card info, you should definitely check with the sender or call your Pendello Solutions team
  • If something looks suspicious, reach out to the sender (through a different method than email) to confirm they sent.
    • If they didn't send it, contact your Pendello Solutions Team
  • If you do click on a link, or you feel that your workstation or email has been compromised, call Pendello, and we will take the following steps:
    • Change the password
    • Run virus scans on possible affected computers
    • Run messages traces to make sure you didn't send out anything if your account has been compromised
    • Check email account for rules, or other suspicious settings

As a rule of thumb, if it seems out of the ordinary, contact your security experts at Pendello Solutions. Let our team do the digging so that you don’t regret grabbing that shovel. That risk could end up costing your business a great deal more than that simple click was worth.