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Ransomware: The Threat Is Very Real

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Above is a screenshot from one of the latest ransomware strains, dubbed ‘Jigsaw’.

The image above is one that is being used in ransomware attacks. Terrifying? Absolutely, but not just because of the disturbing image used; not because of the cocky, brazen tone that has been adopted – but because of the damage that they inflict on unsuspecting business owners.

The use of the image is a clever one; before the user even reads the accompanying text – they will be filled with dread and fear as the ransomware runs through their system, infecting it.

Jigsaw is fairly unique in the way that it operates; as well as infecting files in a different way than most other ransomware strains, it also begins to delete files as a punishment if you take ‘too long’ to pay the $150 dollar ransom. Jigsaw deletes an encrypted file every hour the ransom isn’t paid, making them unrecoverable even if the user pays the ransom. To add insult to injury – each time the user restarts the computer and logs into Windows – an extra 1000 files are deleted.

Just absorb that information; and think how much damage this would do to your business. If we are honest, it’s probably difficult to even comprehend. But due to the upsurge in ransomware emails being received recently, it is business critical that you are proactive in protecting your business from loss in the event of a ransomware attack.

 

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So How Can You Best Protect Yourself From These Attacks?

  1. First things first – NEVER open an attachment from a sender that you don’t know. Being diligent with your emails is one of the most effective ways that you can protect yourself. The email itself may not look suspicious, but if you don’t recognise the sender, refrain from opening the attachment all together. Opening the attachment will unleash the ransomware, where it will proceed to encrypt all files.
  2. Creating secure backups of your data regularly will mean that you can recover files in the event of an attack. Cloud storage has been one of the most popular option for back-ups, and as we recently wrote – we encourage all of our customers to adopt Itronis Cloud Backups. If you decide to use a USB or external hard drive for backups, be sure to remove them from the computer once the back-up is complete, otherwise they too will be infected.
  3. Yes, updating your software can be a minor irritation but many ransomware attacks actually happen when software isn’t up to date. Cyber criminals exploit unpatched bugs in software to introduce their ransomware. An example of this is the Cerber ransomware that was circulated via Adobe Flash Player. However, most ransomware is distributed via phishing emails.
  4. We all have a duty of care when it comes to staying safe online, along with the methods above, it is vital that we educate ourselves and keep informed of the various methods that are used. Learning how to recognise scam tricks, suspicious websites and phishing email techniques.
  5. Use Anti-Virus Software for protection. These should not be used instead of the tips above, but in conjunction with. We can offer you advice and guidance on anti-virus software and firewall protection. There are also malware scanning tools available for both Mac and Windows as well as anti-ransomware tool.

 

The threat of ransomware is one that is very real, and on the increase. By creating an environment that is aware and proactive when it comes to cyber-attacks, it lessens the chance of it happening to you and provides you with a means to minimise damage if it does. To not hesitate to contact us on 01733 577055 should you have any concerns or doubts on this matter.