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Four Ways to Prevent Ransomware Attacks

By: Blair Felter on July 6, 2017

What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is malware that blocks access to your computer files by encrypting them until a ransom is paid to the hacker that deployed it. The WannaCry and Petya attacks both urged users to make a $300 bitcoin payment.

Inside WannaCry

WannaCry is a new variant of ransomware that is primarily spread by “phishing” – sending out emails with malicious links that, when clicked on, enable a user’s computer to be attacked. Once attacked, a machine’s files are encrypted and the “ransom note” appears.

Inside Petya

Like WannaCry, Petya is a variety of ransomware. It locks a computer's hard drive as well as the files stored on it, making these files especially difficult to recover.

How to Prevent Ransomware Attacks

1. Update Windows Patches

The easiest way organizations can prevent attacks from threats like WannaCry and Petya is by keeping their Windows software up to date. Updated versions of Windows are designed to fix security vulnerabilities and safeguard against the latest types of cyberattacks. Plus, many also employ SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) software and IDS/IPS (Intrusion Detection & Prevention Systems) to detect and block the unique signatures of the ransomware.

2. Back Up Data

Confidential or sensitive files should always be securely backed up in remote or un-connected storage facilities. The cloud has made this level of back-up increasingly accessible for companies and users, enabling them to keep their network and systems up and running should a ransomware attack happen.

3. Delete Unreliable Emails & Refrain From Clicking on Malicious Links

Spam messages have always been relatively easy to discard, but pop-up ads and nefarious web links aren’t always as easy to avoid. As a best practice, users should always think twice before clicking on any mysterious emails, links or websites.

4. Work With a Compliant Data Center Provider

Many companies today keep at least a portion of their network infrastructure off site in a third-party data center or colocation facility. This can increase your risk for cyberattacks if your data center provider doesn’t maintain strict security measures and meet compliance standards. Most top-quality providers will meet the highest levels of security and compliance, but it’s important for all companies to fully vet a data center before moving any infrastructure under its roof.

As illustrated by the recent WannaCry and Petya attacks, cybersecurity should continue to be a major concern for organizations and IT teams. The best way companies can arm themselves to stay safe is by being informed.

Get started by checking out this short FAQ on ransomware.

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