Being in the industry, I could be forgiven for thinking that everyone is aware of what Ransomware is and the risks involved. With everyone working form home these days due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the risks increase exponentially. We don’t think much of letting our kids access our computer while we make a cup of tea, all this while connected to the corporate network, sounds familiar? Yup, that’s what I am talking about.
What is Ransomware?
As the name suggests; Ransomware is just that – your precious memories/ data/secrets being held hostage (imagine being locked out of your own computer except it’s much more sophisticated and you can’t take it to your computer guy to reset your password) by some bad people and in return they ask for dosh!
Cough out and you “may” (yup no guarantee) get access to your information! Starting to sweat?, you are not alone.
How does it work?
So we won’t get into the deep weeds of how it works (there is plenty of information available @google.com), put simply, it a mean piece of computer program that can find it’s way onto your computer (phone – yup!) and then go to work in the background using very complex techniques, preparing for the attack. Next time you start or login into your computer you may be greeted with a mean letter of demand something like the image below:
There are various types of ransomware threats with varying degree of damage they can cause. You can read all about it on Wikipedia here. Suffice to say these guys do this for a living and willing to go any lengths.
What can you to protect your self?
Well you can’t stop them completely (as these attackers are constantly finding innovative ways) but you can prepare to recover access to your data without paying any ransom.
Actions to take:
- Backups, backups, backups: having worked in the data protection industry, I cannot stress this enough. I know backups can be painful to setup, get it right and remembering to do. I hear you!
I have included an article I wrote which covers how to perform backups (link coming-soon) in a simple, set and forget manner.
- Ensure proper protection: Ensure your antivirus/anti-malware are up and running with latest. Here is an article that covers how to protect your computer withe quality threat protection solutions for free (link coming-soon).
- Uninstall Apps you don’t use: It is so easy to install apps on our devices these days just to get our daily dopamine hit. These apps generally run powerful computer code with complete access to your device and all your information. Unless you know and completely trust the app developer, be very cautious about which apps you install on your devices. You ‘do not know‘ what these seemingly harmless apps are capable of.
- Good email hygiene: it may come as a surprise to some of you, but the most common way for ransomware and other threats to get into your computer is via email. That link to a funny video in the email you received on Friday or the free voucher attachment in your email are some common traps. Remember these are also applicable to smartphones (which could be very serious) not just computers.
Here is what you can do to minimise ransomware exposure by following simple email hygiene practices (link coming-soon).
Remember, you can be prepared against your next attack and avoid paying ransom by following simple actions and best practices highlighted above.