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How to protect yourself from ransomware

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We’ve seen a significant increase in the number of ransomware threats to clients’ businesses lately, reflecting what our virus/malware protection partners have been telling us. But how can you protect yourself from this malicious software?

What is ransomware?

Ransomware is malware that prevents you from gaining access to your own computer or files, and effectively holds you to ransom until you pay a sum of money to the program’s creators.

The malware usually hides in an email message, often pretending to be from a legitimate business such as Xerox, UPS or FedEx. It may ask you to click a link in order to claim a parcel, or open a pdf to view a document, and you will then find your access blocked until you part with some cash, or Bitcoin.

Why is ransomware so serious?

People are getting good at not clicking on .exe files attached to emails, but ransomware such as Cryptolocker hides in innocent looking files such as PDFs or Zip files, so you are more likely to be fooled into opening them.

Much of this malware uses very strong encryption, so even though there are sometimes a few breakthroughs, it’s increasingly not possible to retrieve files it has locked away.

We work with some of the best suppliers of firewalls, anti-virus and anti-malware software in the industry, but even so there will always be a few emails that slip through the net.

How can you protect yourself?

  • Backup, backup, backup – if your files are held to ransom, you won’t have to pay if you have backed them up elsewhere.
  • Think before you click – If you receive an email asking you click on a link or open an attachment, ask yourself whether you were expecting to receive anything from the sender. If you have the slightest doubt, don’t click.
  • Keep up to date – Regularly review your backup strategy and check that your approach to backup, retention and recovery are right for your business
  • Stay protected – Make sure your firewall, anti-virus and anti-malware software are up to date and properly enabled.
  • Tighten up access – Network shared folders are particularly vulnerable, so make sure that your people only have access to the ones they need, to prevent the spread of malware.
  • Get off the map – Avoid using mapped drives, which the malware can use to spread through a network. Use Favourites or Bookmarks wherever possible.

If you would like to talk to us about protecting your business from viruses, malware, or any other topic, drop us a line at hello@stripeolt.com.