Thursday, March 24, 2016

“2016 has been proclaimed the year Ransomware holds America Hostage”

Ransomware has been around in many different forms since 1989. Today, it has become one most talked about attacks on computers. Ransomware arrives in E-Mail in many different ways. It usually is an attachment resembling an invoice, shipping document, or some other inviting inquiry such as tax documents. Ransomware takes one of two forms of infection. It either locks your computer from operation or it encrypts data files on your local drive, share drives, network drives and even cloud stored data. In any event, the hacker is requesting a ransom fee to free your computer or files. The only other way to recover is from backup. At this point in time, no legal recourse exists.

Everyone needs to take precautions. It is important to be even more diligent in exercising safe E-Mail habits. Always use good judgment when opening E-Mails and E-Mail attachments. One wrong click can prove to be disastrous, infecting your PC (and in some cases the network) with malware or the more damaging ransomware. In creating and sending E-Mails constantly adhere to the proper use and naming conventions of E-Mail attachments.

What does this mean for you or your business?

Any user activating a ransomware virus will cause all networks files, such as tax data files, QuickBooks files, excel files, word files on the network drives to be infected. In other words, you could be shut down or out of business until a ransom is paid or data is recovered from backups which is a time consuming process. No one is immune to ransomware viruses.

In January 2016, there was a company infected with a ransomware virus. A whole day of productivity was lost to recover data from backups. Unfortunately, other businesses that did not have backups of their system have paid the ransom. The Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital Medical System had to pay $17000 after 10 days of pursing other options to release their systems in February 2016. There have been others who have paid including law firms, school districts and law enforcement agencies.

What are the best defenses?

The best defenses against RANSONWARE:
  • DO NOT open email attachments that did not come from a reliable source.
  • DO NOT open email attachments with unconventional file names or extensions.
  • DO NOT open email attachments that look suspicious even if from a reliable source – verify with the sender first.
  • DO NOT ignore or take lightly Outlook’s message that email might be unsafe.
  • DO NOT take lightly requesting emails  to be released from the PureMessage quarantine
  • Insure that you have reliable backups of your systems. Verify and test backups on a regular basis. Multiple backups are a plus.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your KOS Advisor and we will be happy to assist you.

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