Recently, high-profile utilities and businesses have been hit by ransomware attacks. Ransomware is a type of malware threat used to infect computers and encrypt computer files until a ransom is paid. The ransom often is very expensive with no guarantee that your computer and data are secure from future ransomware attacks. Certainly, the businesses and organizations that are affected bring their daily operations to a halt. This disruption leaves the interaction of the data with customers, vendors, employees, board members, and all that are affiliated with the attacked entity, completely unable to digitally transact.
What can I do to protect my data and networks?
Back up your computer
Perform frequent backups of your system and other important files and verify your backups regularly. If your computer becomes infected with ransomware, you can restore your system to its previous state using your backups. Agvance Hosted Solutions automatically backs up servers and databases.
Store your backups separately
A best practice is to store your backups on a separate device that cannot be accessed from a network, such as on an external hard drive. Once the backup is completed, make sure to disconnect the external hard drive or separate device from the network or computer. Agvance Hosted Backups are stored in AWS.
Train your organization
Organizations should ensure that they provide cybersecurity awareness training to their personnel. Ideally, organizations will have regular, mandatory cybersecurity awareness training sessions to ensure their personnel are informed about current cybersecurity threats and threat actor techniques. To improve workforce awareness, organizations can test their personnel with phishing assessments that simulate real-world phishing emails.
What can I do to prevent ransomware infections?
Update and patch your computer
Ensure your applications and operating systems (OSs) have been updated with the latest patches. Vulnerable applications and OSs are the target of most ransomware attacks. SSI staff keep your hosted servers’ OS up-to-date and patched.
Use caution with links and when entering website addresses
Be careful when clicking directly on links in emails, even if the sender appears to be someone you know. Attempt to independently verify website addresses (e.g., contact your organization's helpdesk, search the internet for the sender organization’s website or the topic mentioned in the email). Pay attention to the website addresses you click on, as well as those you enter yourself. Malicious website addresses often appear almost identical to legitimate sites, often using a slight variation in spelling or a different domain (e.g., .com instead of .net).
Open email attachments with caution
Be wary of opening email attachments, even from senders you think you know, particularly when attachments are compressed files or ZIP files.
Keep your personal information safe
Check a website’s security to ensure the information you submit is encrypted before you provide it.
Verify email senders
If you are unsure whether or not an email is legitimate, try to verify the email’s legitimacy by contacting the sender directly. Do not click on any links in the email. If possible, use a previous (legitimate) email to ensure the contact information you have for the sender is authentic before you contact them.
Keep yourself informed about recent cybersecurity threats and up-to-date on ransomware techniques.
Use and maintain preventative software programs
Install antivirus software, firewalls, and email filters—and keep them updated—to reduce malicious network traffic.