If you have been reading the news lately you no doubt have seen that Ransomware seems to be rearing it’s ugly head again … the great news is that the devastating effects of this are entirely preventable!
“Ransomware is a type of malware which restricts access to the computer system it infects and demands a ransom paid to the creators of the malware in order for the restriction to be removed” – (from Wikipedia)
We are all potential targets of this kind of behaviour the second we turn our computers on but the good news is that there are a number of simple steps we can take to mitigate any potential damage that may come from an infection of this type.
If you are primarily a home user then a simple hardware firewall from the major consumer brands like Cisco-Linksys or D-Link would be the absolute first line of defence for any setup that accesses the internet.
If you are primarily a business or corporation where a single internet pipe is serving up an Internet connection for several people, then you will want to consider a hardware firewall solution that is a bit more robust. Many companies provide solutions at this level such as SonicWall, Cisco or Juniper and many others.
At their most basic level these devices prevent un-fettered access to your network or PC from anyone on the outside unless you first initiate the connection.
At the corporate level many of these devices also carry with them a complete suit of security services and processes to provide virus and malware scanning right at the hardware level.
See our other article entitled “How Do I Pick The Best Security Firewall and Associated Security Devices For My Business?” for a deeper dive into this subject.
On the desktops and, possibly, servers in your environment you absolutely “must” make sure that proper Anti-Virus protection is available and running on each device in your environment. Both real time “on the fly” scans must be active as well as regular full scans of each machine.
This is meant to try and prevent an infection from getting too far if it does make it on your machine …
Onsite and Offsite Backups
Ultimately it comes down to this … someone is holding your data hostage and will not release it to you unless you pay them for it.
Consider this! : What if you were more than willing to just turn the machine off and blow it up/scrub it clean and reload everything from scratch … this pretty much takes the teeth out of any threat or blackmail that they could potentially throw at your doesn’t it?
If you are completely aware of where all your data is, and confirm that you could turn your machine off and get the data elsewhere then you are sitting quite pretty.
See our other article entitled “It’s Late On Friday, Do You Know Where Your Data Is?” for more on this.
Once you know you have an infection and it’s not possible to remove it I would highly suggest the following steps :
#1 : Disconnect the machine from the Internet and shut it off.
#2 : As mentioned above, check all your backups and confirm you have access to all your data elsewhere!
#3 : Once you confirm you have access to your data elsewhere then I would proceed to scrub your machine clean and reload from scratch.
Now in the situation where you find yourself stricken with this virus and no backups are available then you have a choice to make and make quickly!
Even if the program says it will cost you $300.00, for example, you may think “Well, it’s only $300.00 so maybe I should just pay it an avoid the hassle” … in this case you have no reason to trust that it will end there! The virus may just likely freeze the machine again and ask for $$$ again.
In any event, the safest approach to this would be to consult a professional before attempting any remedial action and your choices at that time will need to be reviewed.
If you are currently sailing in safe waters and all is well then “NOW” is the perfect time to consider crafting a plan to deal with just such a situation!
I’d welcome you leaving a comment below and if you are interested in having a plan like this crafted for “your” business please reach out using the different methods on my CONTACT PAGE and I’ll be happy to discuss with you!