CryptoLocker, WannaCry, and Other Ransomware: How to Avoid Becoming a Victim (and What to Do if You’re Hit)

Use these tips to avoid being hit by malware that renders computers useless until cyber criminals are paid a ransom

If your organization hasn’t been hit with ransomware, you’ve been fortunate. This is a growing type of cyber-attack that can render its victims helpless, forcing them to pay a ransom to regain access to their computer and/or important data.

What is ransomware?

Ransomware is simply a type of malware that infects a machine, locks it, and then requires the victim to pay money to remove the infection. Ransomware comes in many forms, but CryptoLocker is a version that has been especially rampant lately. It disguises itself as an email with a password-protected zip file that is supposedly from some type of logistics company. When the user unzips the file, the computer becomes infected and a user’s documents are commandeered until the victim pays a ransom. WannaCry is another global attack that struck computers in “at least 150 countries,” causing up to $4 billion in damage.

How to avoid CryptoLocker, WannaCry, and other ransomware

To prevent yourself or any of your employees from falling victim to a ransomware attack, you can follow these steps:

  • Be vigilant – Be wary of emails from individuals you don’t know, especially those that contain attachments.
  • Back up your data – It’s imperative that you always back up your critical data. By doing so, you protect yourself from these types of attacks as well as hardware failures.
  • If you have a backup, don’t pay the ransom – If you do have a backup of your files, it’s recommended that you do not pay the ransom. Paying the ransom rewards cyber criminals. If possible, it’s best to restore your files from backup and to not communicate with any individuals who are looking to take advantage of you.
  • Show hidden file extensions – CryptoLocker typically arrives in a file with an extension of “.PDF.EXE” which counts on Windows’ default behavior of hiding the file extension. Because the executable extension is hidden, individuals attempting to open it think it’s a PDF file. If you enable the ability to show hidden file extensions, it’ll be easier to spot these types of cyber-attacks.
  • Utilize antivirus and antimalware software as well as a firewall – It’s important to always have active antivirus and antimalware software in place as well as a firewall to help identify threats or suspicious behavior.
  • Update your operating system! Microsoft, Apple and other software and hardware providers are constantly releasing security patches to help fight potential and known vulnerabilities, and it’s important to ensure that your machines are always up to date with these patches. It’s been determined that most of the successful WannaCry attacks could have been prevented with basic IT security measures, notably by keeping machines updated. That’s a $4 billion lesson.
  • Work with an experienced managed IT service provider – It’s always a good idea to have an IT provider on speed dial in the event that you fall victim to some type of ransomware. An experienced company can take immediate steps to deal with a bad situation – or simply keep you from experiencing it in the first place.

Reach out to Network Computer Pros today to learn more about how to prevent ransomware

Ransomware is a very real concern for companies big and small. If you’ve fallen victim to one of these attacks, or you’re just looking to protect yourself, don’t hesitate to reach out to the experienced team at Network Computer Pros today. Call us at 954-880-0388 or send us a message through our online contact form.

By | 2017-12-21T18:34:36+00:00 November 29th, 2017|Network Management|