Ransomware is a type of malicious software which hinders the victim’s access to their data and as the name suggests, threatens to delete or publish data unless a ransom is paid. In some cases, this malware encrypts data which can only be decrypted upon paying a ransom. While Ransomware are no new guests and have existed since the inception of computers, there are different approaches on how you can protect yourself and your organization.
Just recently, the Wanna Cry ransomware was the talk of town; and since things seem to have cooled off, we thought it helpful to look into the anatomy of ransomware and hopefully, prevent similar happenings in future. Windows systems appear to be the most vulnerable, and thus, this post may seem inclined to these systems.
Ransomware has a predictable way of getting a hold of data, despite the sophistication of an attack. Usually, infections usually start with an email which has an infected link. Clicking on this link leads to infection as the malware gets installed into the system, and exploits vulnerabilities in your operating system. This may be outdated Operating systems (OS), lack of security software among other security flaws. The malware then replicates itself, encrypting your precious data. What’s left? Either pay a ransom or lose your data.
The approaches we are giving here are ways to either prevent such attacks or have a way out whenever they happen. Which is this? Regular backups. Backing up of data can take many approaches, either on the cloud, which is the recommended way, or backup data on physical harddisks, which is the cheapest and easiest way.
The frequency of data backup can be the line between data loss and recovery. It is crucial to make restore points several times during the day. Making restore points is easy and can be done manually or automatically through schedules. Windows systems also allow users to create recovery images, which can also be used to restore critical system files and settings. These settings are easily accessible on your computer’s Control Panel.
Organizations should also, on their list of priorities, include data recovery options. Again, this may range from services such as cloud backup, (which you can read about in various articles here), data security, and physical data recovery. Training of team players on data security is also a very important measure that organizations should take. Remember, most of these infections start from a click, either knowingly or unknowingly. The need for employees to understand email contents before opening links can mean the difference between data security and data loss.