Technology Pointe Blog

Technology Pointe has been serving the Round Rock area since 2000, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Are you Ransomware Ready?

Four percent of companies say they are “very confident” in their ability to protect themselves against ransomware attacks, meaning 96% are not quite so confident.

Ransomware exploits a company’s weakest link: The Employees!

Ransomware

Ransomware is a type of malware that prevents you from accessing your data until you pay a ransom which can be quite expensive.  The number of ransomware attacks have been growing rapidly since 2015.  Last year, the occurrence of ransomware attacks nearly doubled, showing a 172% increase in the first half of 2016 compared to the whole of 2015.  

This growth is being fueled by the rise of “Ransomware as a Service”. This type of ransomware is designed to be used by anyone with little or no technical knowledge. These agents attempt to trick a person into infecting their computer by offering a free download or one for a nominal fee.  Once downloaded, they fall victim to a virus that sets a ransom and payment deadline to eradicate their computer of the malware.  If the victim pays up, the original author gets a cut - approx. 5% to 20% - and the rest goes to the “script kiddie” who deployed the attack.

The FBI estimates ransomware to be a $1-billion-dollar source of income for cyber criminals in 2016.

Considering the amount of income it generates, it’s safe to say that this won’t go away anytime soon.  For the safety and health of your business, you need to be aware of the risks and take the appropriate protective measures.

Make Ransomware Defense All Employees’ Responsibility!

Here’s How:

  • Invest in training for staff so that they are aware of how ransomware works, including Phishing.
  • Only download software - especially free software - from sites you know and trust.
  • Use the best anti-virus and DNS enforcement software on the market.
  • Backup your systems with a product that works at the image level - All backups are not the same.
    • Image-based Snapshot Technology is the best choice.
      • There are still a lot of companies backing up to tape - this is hugely unreliable. Tapes get corrupted and wiped very easily. We hear horror stories all the time of companies failing to restore from tape. Be warned!
    • Offsite Replication - It is essential that you replicate your backups offsite to ensure business continuity in the event of a site issue.
      • Backing up locally just might not be enough should a more destructive ransomware attack shared folders on your NAS boxes by accessing file services on your PCs. The best prevention is to have uninfected backup versions stored in an offsite location.  A good Disaster Recovery solution will replicate your data to a location of your choice (maybe that’s a second site within the company; or maybe a private or public cloud) and replicate to a schedule that suits you.
    • Have a Disaster Recovery Plan. Do not let a disaster be your first test.
    • Testing - You MUST be able to test your Disaster Recovery Plan (and test often).  This is the only way to validate your recovery objectives are being met.

Conclusion

There is no silver bullet in dealing with Ransomware.  The best approach is a multilayered one that incorporates educating staff, keeping your anti-virus software up-to-date and utilizing a DNS enforcement program.  Also, regular software patching and most importantly, having a robust and tested Disaster Recovery plan in place.

Technology Pointe utilizes these and other multilayered defenses for all its clients.  Contact us to find out how we can protect you from ransomware and other threats.

http://www.tech-pointe.com

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