We've dealt with several instances of this kind of disruptive malware several times in just the past two months. If you haven't heard of ransomware, it is a specific class of virus that attempts to hold your data for ransom. The virus works by fooling the computer user into clicking a link in an email or viewing a malicious ad on a website. It then encrypts files on the computers drive and any external or shared storage to which the computer can access. It then instructs the user to pay a specific amount in order to access the data again. The ransom amount is typically anywhere from $200 to $5,000.
Once a PC is infected, the user really only has two choices. Pay the ransom and (maybe) get your data back, or restore your data from a recent backup and remove the virus. In fact, in an article found on MSN.com, the FBI is recommending paying the ransom if the data is important and you don't have a backup. All of this sounds very scary, and rightly so. But with a little common sense and planning, a ransomware attack doesn't have to mean a major disaster for your business.
The first thing every business should do is ensure its data is backed up at least every day. Good data backups will let you restore damaged files as soon as the infection is detected. It's also important to have at least a months' worth of backups to restore from. If the virus damages a file that's not accessed very often, it could be weeks before the damage is noticed. Having at least a months' worth of history in backup gives you flexibility.
Good anti-virus software is another must-have. But just installing anti-virus software isn't enough. It's critical to make sure the software stays up-to-date and running. New versions of malware pop-up constantly, often several times each day. Many kinds of malware attempt to disable anti-virus software as well. Anti-virus software can't protect you if it's disabled or months out of date.
This is where a good IT Services company can help. At Watchtower, we not only provide anti-virus software and backup software, we constantly monitor each and take action the instant we detect a threat. Give us a call to learn more about how to protect yourself from ransomware.