If you haven’t heard the term, it is currently the most destructive type of computer virus on the planet.
It’s been around for years. But recently it has hit the news as major organizations around the world have been affected.
This is a long post, but please take time to read it. We’ve unfortunately already assisted many organizations this year with the Ransomware problem. Every home and business user needs to be aware of the destructive nature of this Virus.
So how does it potentially affect you?
Hackers plant a virus on your machine that encrypts all of your documents, pictures, and can even corrupt your email. When you try to open your files, you get a message on the screen, demanding a “ransom” for the decryption key.
It used to be bank transfers, but since the introduction of BitCoins (an electronic payment method similar to PayPal). The demand is now normally for 1 or 2 BitCoins (which are difficult to trace for the authorities) and that can amount to thousands of dollars!
And, sometimes the hackers take the money, and never send the key to decrypt the files!
But how does it get on my machine?
The most common way is via email. Hackers send an email which masquerades itself as being from another organization. UPS, FedEx, major banks, even shopping companies like Amazon and e-Bay. Inside the very convincing email will be a link or an attached document. When you open that link or document, the virus is installed.
But, it can also be installed by hackers finding vulnerabilities in your network security, and dropping the virus onto your machine or server.
How can i prevent it?
The truth is, you can never protect yourself 100%. Despite the claims of the major Anti-Virus providers, like Kaspersky, as fast as they increase their protection methods, the hackers modify their viruses to avoid being detected.
So, is there anything else i can do?
Yes. Protect yourself in two ways:
First, educate your family, and if you run a business then educate your staff, on how to check that an email is valid before clicking it. Check the links by hovering over them with the mouse before clicking. If the email is supposedly from FedEx, but the link doesn’t even mention the FedEx name, then it’s probably bogus!
Second, make sure you have a reliable backup of all your key data. But, be warned. The Ransomware virus attacks not only all your local hard drive files, but also anything else that it can connect to! So, any USB flash drives, Hard Drives, and even any Network Drives that may be mapped to your server!
Some people feel confident that they are safe because they use Dropbox, but Dropbox works by storing a copy of all your files in a local folder and then uploading them to the Dropbox cloud, so they are affected as well!
So, what should i use?
A Cloud Backup is the only truly safe way to protect yourself, as it isn’t connected locally to your machine. You need to make sure it’s configured properly.
Some Cloud Backup services run on a continuous basis. This is good if your machine suddenly fails. As you have the most recent copy of your files. This means that any ransomware infection is immediately copied to your cloud backup, and overwrites the clean files that were stored there!
A good retention policy is key. In other words, how many versions of a file? or How many days worth of file copies? does the cloud backup store.
Our Cloud Backup Service is fully customizable to your requirements. Typically our customers keep the original version of a file plus two copies, or 7 days worth of file versions. That way, if the infection hits, and you don’t notice until after a backup has happened, there is still a way to restore a clean copy of the affected files.
Every customer’s situation is different though. We will guide you through the process of making sure that your data is protected, in the event that you or your organization contract the ransomware virus.
For a business, a Cloud Backup can be the difference between being operational again within hours of an attack, or losing years worth of priceless data and having to start from scratch. It forms a key part of any Disaster Recovery or Business Continuity planning.
ACG Support Team