The Frightening Reality of Ransomware

Are your IT systems vulnerable?

Ransomware attacks are rapidly escalating and it’s not simply the everyday Joe or naïve individual user who is being targeted. Hackers are now targeting the computer systems of towns, medical institutions, even police departments, installing malicious software on the victims’ computers which blocks access to their systems until a ransom is paid.

It’s worth noting that in 2015 alone, the FBI received over 2,400 complaints about ransomware in which victims collectively lost over $24 million. That’s a 25% increase in the number victims and $1 million more in paid ransom from the year before.

Why the sudden surge in hijackings? After all, ransomware has been around since the mid-80s.

Security experts believe that high profile cases have emboldened hackers who realize that going after bigger targets, such as companies and major institutions, results in a far more lucrative payoff in the end. For example, recently the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center revealed that they had paid $17,000 ransom in bitcoins to hackers who were holding their hospital’s computer systems hostage.

In the end, it’s critical for companies and organizations to put safeguards in place so that if a hacker does manage to hijack their systems, their business will not come to a screaching halt until the systems can be unencrypted. That means taking certain ransomware protection and precautionary steps:

  1. Secure and tested back ups and a recovery plan. It’s simply not enough to have system backups if you’re never testing the data and have no recovery plan in place. Effective backup and disaster recovery can mean the difference between a few hours of downtime versus weeks or even months before a full recovery.
  2. Risk-based authentication or layering authentication. These types of authentication will flag an unknown user attempting to gain admission to an area of the network they would not otherwise be authorized to access.
  3. Filter EXEs in email. Ransomware often arrives with the file extensions “pdf.exe.” If you block emails with “exe” files or attachments showing two file extensions you can prevent transmission via email.
  4. Double up on ransomware protection. Use both anti-malware software and a software firewall to ensure notification of threats or suspicious activity.
  5. Partner with a reputable IT Specialist. Companies like TECA Data Safe are experts when it comes to ensuring the secure and continuous operation of your IT systems, and that allows you to focus on taking care of business.

Contact us today for more information about ransomware protection, cloud backup, and disaster recovery solutions.

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