GUEST POST: Protect Yourself from Ransomware
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According to SonicWall, there were 638 million ransomware attacks in 2016.
What is ransomware?
Currently your data can be infected by a virus that encrypts your files. Once the files are encrypted, the only way to decrypt them back to a usable state is to know what the decryption code is. The people that set these viruses loose on the Internet typically will provide this decryption code to you for a price - usually 300-500 dollars paid in Bitcoin currency (due to its clandestine nature).
How does it get me?
It typically comes across over email as an attachment that seems to slip right past all antivirus programs. For example, an HR director posted a job on Craigslist and was emailed a resume. When she opened the resume, her workstation became infected with ransomware.
What does it encrypt?
Ransomware typically will encrypt anything you have access to. If you are at work and have access to shared folders, it gets those files along with anything on your workstation. Ransomware also replicates to places. It is very popular to use Microsoft’s OneDrive, Google Docs, and Dropbox. If you are synchronizing your files to these cloud storage locations and your local files become encrypted, it propagates to the cloud.
How do I stay safe from ransomware?
There are several solutions out there today since a lot of people fall victim to this type of crime. You can use an offline backup system to make copies of your files, like an external hard drive that you connect via USB. However, that can't save your programs or system settings. For additional protection, businesses typically pay for more advanced programs or services to protect their system.
Dan Slusarchuk is founder and CEO of Standards I.T., an Information Technology company that provides small business with exactly the amount of hardware and software support that it needs.