This next article on the continuing, growing threat of ransomware attacks comes courtesy of our very own John Rokes.
John has spent 35 years in project management and enterprise IT and now brings that expertise to OXEN Technology clients. John constantly reviews industry buzz and writes about it in his own blog at InfoSec for the Small-Medium Sized Organization. This article is republished from that work.
Ransomware Attacks Are Increasing
A new report found that nearly 40 percent of businesses had been victims of ransomware attacks in the past year. Security Magazine says that at least a third of these businesses lost revenue and that 20 percent shut down completely as a result of ransomware.
Malwarebytes, a leading malware protection software vendor, sponsored the report. It states that “Over the last four years, ransomware has evolved into one of the biggest cyber security threats in the wild, with instances of ransomware in exploit kits increasing 259 percent in the last five months alone.”
The report found that 46 percent of ransomware attacks came from email. More than 40 percent of victims actually paid the ransom. They also spend a significant time on remediation from a ransomware attack. When an infected computer has access to your business cloud drive or file server, that infected PC will encrypt and make inaccessible potentially every file your organization needs to stay in business. More than 60 percent of these attacks took more than 9 hours to resolve.
Microsoft recommends that you should:
- Install and use an up-to-date antivirus solution.
- Make sure your software is up-to-date.
- Avoid clicking on links or opening attachments or emails from people you don’t know or companies you don’t do business with.
- Ensure you have smart screen (in Internet Explorer) turned on.
- Have a pop-up blocker running in your web browser.
- Regularly back up your important files.
User Awareness and Training
I have found that user awareness and training is one of the most effective ways to avoid a ransomware infection. There will always be someone who opens that one infected email that gets past an Intrusion Prevention Firewall’s gateway anti-virus and the endpoint device’s anti-virus software Therefore, I have found that the best way to recover from this is from a reliable backup.
Backup Your System
If you have a file server, ensure that you are continually backing up the server. Unless you have your own IT staff with server expertise, the best way to do this is to have your backup system provided and managed by a Managed Service Provider, such as OXEN Technology. Companies like OXEN Technology have the tools and expertise to restore your entire server in a short amount of time, should ransomware attacks get past your defenses. They provide IT expertise to organizations who don’t have the need or the budget for full-time IT departments.
Managed service providers like OXEN Technology can also provide your organization with a managed firewall. A managed firewall goes beyond a typical firewall as an Intrusion Prevention Appliance. Often, the gateway anti-virus protection that OXEN’s WorryFree managed firewalls provide will actually catch and block the incoming infected email that one of your employees might just click on.
If you use a cloud service for file storage and sharing, often that service can restore the organization’s files from the service’s backup. Microsoft’s OneDrive for Business has this capability, for example. The infected user’s local files on the computer will be lost…. But the ransomware can be safely cleaned from the user’s computer by an experienced engineer. This spares the operating system, applications, and settings from needing to be reinstalled and reconfigured.
What to do when you’ve been infected? Immediately power off and disconnect the infected computer from your network. Then call an IT solutions expert to help you get back to normal. Powering off the computer disconnects it from the network. Disconnecting the network cable adds another layer of defense for your network connected systems in case someone accidentally turns the computer back on.
Be safe and prepared. Prevention is the best medicine. For more information about how to protect yourself against malicious software like ransomware, download our “8 Habits of Unhackability” checklist.
40 Percent of Enterprises Hit by Ransomware in the Last Year. (n.d.). Retrieved August 13, 2016, from http://www.securitymagazine.com/articles/87332-percent-of-enterprises-hit-by-ransomware-in-the-last-year
Ransomware facts. Retrieved August 13, 2016, from https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/security/portal/mmpc/shared/ransomware.aspx
Oxen Technology | Strong IT and Managed Services Provider. (n.d.). Retrieved August 13, 2016, from https://oxen.tech/