Ransomware 101

An organization’s data is the most valuable currency. Although most companies regularly backup data, they are still vulnerable to ransom attacks that target entire networks, backup systems, and even the cloud. In this post, we’ll take a deeper dive into the basics of ransomware and answer common questions, such as:

  • What is ransomware?
  • How does ransomware work?
  • How can I avoid ransomware?

What is ransomware?

Ransomware is a real threat to businesses of any size. Ransomware a class of malware (malicious software) that prevents or limits users from accessing their systems or data, either by locking the system’s screen or by locking the users’ files, unless a ransom is paid. Successful ransomware infections have surged to record in 2020 as more and more victims are choosing to recover their data by paying up, which further motivates cybercriminals to continue the attacks.

Criminals are targeting healthcare organizations, law firms, financial service organizations and all businesses that have valuable data that they can’t afford to lose. These criminals realize that it is easier to hold a company’s data hostage than it is to steal the data and use it. The risk of being caught spreading ransomware is also much lower than traditional hacking.

Hospitals, law firms and many other organizations have been shut down for weeks as a result of successful ransomware attacks that have encrypted the entire network and made access to company data and systems impossible.

How does ransomware work?

Ransomware is usually associated with fake emails called phishing emails that contain malicious attachments such as Microsoft Word documents or PDF files. Once the attachments are opened, a program locks or encrypts all the data on the workstation. Ransomware can then spread to other workstations and servers on the network. Some other more aggressive forms of ransomware, such as NotPetya, exploit security holes to infect computers without needing to trick users.

How can I avoid ransomware?

To combat ransomware and other cyber threats, businesses of all sizes should invest wisely in solutions that continuously discover and patch security vulnerabilities. We also recommend businesses invest more in their people, including training and certification for IT security personnel and ongoing security awareness training for all employees. Never underestimate the value of your human firewall! For the best in today’s data security solutions, contact Simplify Tech!


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