Ransomware, what is that?
Ransomware is a piece of malicious software that can encrypt files on your computer, meaning you can no longer access them. Commonly you will just get a popup warning telling you are files are locked and here is how much you need to pay to get them unlocked. This is a Trojan attack which would usually come in the form of an email attachment or file.
How will you know if you have been subject to a ransomware attack?
You will not be able to open your files; the file icons will have changed and the titles will have changed with an email address for you to contact to get your files back and to pay the ransom.
Ransomware attacks are on the rise, this may be due to the release of an updated ransomware application.
What can you do if you are affected?
Well for all of you have been prepared and made regular back-ups, the news is not so bad, you can simply restore to your last back-up.
For those of you who have not run a recent back-up of your data, sorry, there is not much you can do. The chances of you guessing the pass code for the now encrypted data are slim to none.
Should you pay?
In my opinion no, even if you get you pay the ransom there is no guarantee that you will get an access key, get your files back or ever hear from them the filenappers1 again.
What can you do to protect yourself?
In short, healthy paranoia is the way to go. Here are some steps to take:
- Back up your files on a cloud service such as Google drive or Microsoft OneDrive. Ideally create multiple backups.
- Ignore emails from unknown senders.
- Never open .zip email attachments even if from a known sender, ask them to copy to a cloud location and send you a link or if the zip file is the only option at a minimum confirm that they sent you the file before you open or download it.
- Keep your software updated (computer, applications and drivers)
- For a corporate environment create a strict email attachment policy and configure everything with security in mind.
It is good advice to not rely on a single back-up or security solution, always layer your security. Solutions include simple personal diligence in opening files and websites, antivirus, firewalls, file permissions and backup regularly and in multiple locations if possible. Will it guarantee your protection? No, but it will make it a lot harder to be affected by a casual phishing attack.
At New Horizons Ireland, our information security training programs are designed to ensure your organisation is at a significantly reduced risk of an information breach and also minimises negative impacts should a breach occur.
Information Security courses and certification are primarily created by vendor-neutral vendors such as CompTIA, (ISC)² and EC-Council. These organisations are committed to setting strict security standards that any organisation can implement. Earning certifications from these vendor-neutral organisations is an ideal way to prove your skill and knowledge to your employer.
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1. Filenappers –the people who are holding your files for ransom.