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How to Minimize the Effect of Ransomware and Prevent It from Spreading
Ransomware attacks are becoming more and more popular as cybercriminals look for new ways to cheat people out of their money. With even more business processes and interactions moving online, telecommuters have to be double vigilant to protect themselves from ransomware.
Ransomware is the cyber equivalent of a hostage situation. Once this malicious software makes its way onto your computer, it encrypts your personal files and demands payment of a ransom to obtain the decryption key. You are led to believe that unless you pay the ransom, you will not be able to gain access to your files again. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to minimize the effects of a ransomware attack if you have fallen victim to one. Make sure you follow the tips below to keep the attack from spreading and get access to your data without coughing up a huge sum of money.
Immediately Isolate the Device
This may seem obvious when you read it, but many people often forget this extremely important step that is needed to minimize the effects of an attack. Once ransomware infects a device, it often spreads quickly to all other devices that are connected to the network. It may send emails to everyone in your contact list attempting to get them to download the ransomware as well. You must immediately remove your device from the network and Internet to help prevent it from spreading! Having the files on one device encrypted is bad enough – you do not want all devices in your network to fall prey to cybercriminals as well. Once the infected device is removed from the network, you can begin the process of removing the ransomware to regain access to your files.
Perform Regular Backups
You might be wondering what backups have to do with minimizing ransomware, but the correlation is strong. Ransomware does its damage because it causes you to lose access to your files. But what if you could wipe your entire device and reinstall fresh copies of your data? If you perform regular backups and are confident in their quality, you can! You can take the infected device and restore it to a previous state before it became infected with the ransomware. Now you have all your data back and no more ransomware to worry about! Without a recent backup, your options are much more limited. You either lose parts (or possibly all your data) or you must find a way to decrypt your files. In this case, a recent backup can be a lifesaver!
An important thing to note on the topic of backups is that not all of them are created equal. What deciding on a backup solution with your IT team or your managed service provider, test the backups to ensure the quality of restored files, as well as how fast you can expect your information to be restored from a backup. It would be wise to set up a customized backup script for your business since some data, such as sensitive customer and financial data, may need to be backed up more frequently and have a higher level of protection while other types of data may need less frequent backups. Talk to your MSP to determine the best scenario.
Update Your Security Software
If you are not keeping your security software updated with the latest patches and improvements, that is almost the same as having no security software at all! Criminals are constantly changing the way they do things to get around antivirus and other security software. Therefore, the good guys must continuously make updates to keep up as well. Most security applications release very frequent updates to keep you up-to-date with the latest protection from threats. If you are not keeping your security software updated, then chances are you are much more vulnerable to threats – including ransomware. The best idea is to set your software so that it performs those updates automatically. This way, you cannot forget to update it as it will perform that task on its own. If you are working with one, a managed service provider can take care of that for you.
Do Not Pay the Ransom
Paying the ransom would only encourage this kind of behavior in the future, and it would also encourage others to attempt the same scams. Plus, who says that paying the ransom will indeed give you back your access to data? Do you really trust the same cybercriminals who infected your device in the first place? Your best bet is to follow the advice already laid out in this article. Immediately remove your device from the network, attempt to restore from a recent backup, and then contact a security company with experience in decryption should that become necessary. Know your limits and call in an expert when necessary! If you find yourself stuck and not knowing what else to do, then call an expert for help to increase the chances of successfully recovering your data.
Unfortunately, ransomware attacks occur every day, and they are only getting more sophisticated. However, there are things that you can do to protect yourself from the effects of such an attack. Follow the tips laid out above to help minimize the harmful effects of the attack and prevent it from infecting other devices in your network. With a little planning and preparedness, you will be ready and know what to do should you find yourself in this situation with your data at stake.