Understanding Ransomware

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Ransomware is defined as a type of malware that prevents or limits users from accessing their system and its contents. And while the bad guys may not be sailing galleons and stealing doubloons, they are most definitely pirates. A recent Google search on the term ‘ransomware’ turned up over two million results, and there is no shortage of information on Twitter using #ransomware.

  • Ransomware can be delivered to your PC or network through infected files attached to email (ZIP, .pdf, or MS Office files), malvertising (malicious banner ads), or malicious URLs, to name some of the most common methods.
  • Well known names include WannaCry, Petya, Cryptowall, CryptoLocker, and TorrentLocker

Once you’ve been hit with ransomware, your system may be locked, and/or your files encrypted. Generally speaking, you’ll be asked to pay a ransom, and you may or may not get your files back. The average cost is $500, but it depends on the virus and those accountable for it. In some cases, ransom has been over $1,000.

  • Annual losses are in the millions of dollars
  • Paying the ransom doesn't guarantee return of your data
  • Don't forget to consider lost time and productivity

Can your business recover from a dead standstill measuring days, if not weeks? Even if files are recoverable, the task of removing the virus from the network can be challenging.

How to Avoid Ransomware

  • Education is the first step. Security training should be mandatory for all employees. .
  • Properly backed up data means not having to pay the ransom.  
  • Firewalls, spam filtering, anti-virus, and anti-ransomware that are properly configured and managed are the most important part. Ashton recommends Sophos for all your security needs.

To learn more about ransomware, click below to download a Sophos document on the subject or contact us through the form to the right. 

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