Recently, we got a call from one of our customers that were in a hell of a bind. They had lost access to all of their data, their software, and their entire system was unusable. They were locked out of everything by what's
What is Ransomware?
Ransomware is a particularly nasty bit of malware that's purpose is to lock a person or a company out of their computer and charge a ransom to regain access. If you don't comply with its demands within a specified timeframe or try to get around it or disable it yourself, the ransomware will delete everything on your computer, and if that computer is connected to a network or other data storage device, all of that gets wiped too.
Who Does Ransomware Target?
The targets for this kind of malware are often small businesses (such as glass shops) because they have relatively insecure computers and networks, don't have any dedicated IT resources, nor any strong cyber security protocols in place.
These kinds of businesses are likely to pay up when ransomware locks them out because of how critical the data stored on their computers are, any amount of work stoppage can mean huge financial losses, and it's unlikely that they have their data backed up anywhere else.
The biggest problem with ransomware is that once you are infected, it's already too late to do anything about it unless you are "lucky" and get hit by a version of ransomware that's already been cracked. Otherwise, you are paying out the nose to recover your files and praying that you do get everything back.
It's important to realize that this isn't like TV or the movies, hackers are not typing 200WPM in some dark cave somewhere to magically gain access to your shop's computer and network and slapping some ransomware in there.
The dude above is not coming after your glass shop. The ways you usually get hit with ransomware are incredibly mundane, and you don't need to be a computer wiz to avoid it. Just a little bit of knowledge of the most common methods of infection can help you avoid almost all ransomware attacks.
Out of Date Software
If your computer software is out of date, you are at an extreme amount of risk of being infected by ransomware. This is the biggest no-brainer when it comes to staying safe. Keep your software up to date. If you are notified of a new update make sure you download and install it as soon as you can.
A common method of getting a virus like ransomware onto someone's computer is sending it as an email attachment. People often don't even think twice about downloading an attachment. If you receive emails from customers or have a contact email that is open to the public, you are opening yourself up to receiving emails with malicious attachments.
That doesn't mean you have to abandon email altogether. You just need to be a bit more careful about how you use it. Make sure you or any of your employees don't download attachments from email addresses you don't recognize, don't click any links on these types of emails either and instantly delete any emails that seem suspicious.
Insecure web Browsing
Another way hackers can get into your network or computer is using websites that can add malicious files to your PC just by having you visit them or by having you download an app or file that seems innocuous but may contain something malicious such as ransomware.
In a glass shop with multiple computers with internet access and multiple employees that could be using those computers, there is a whole lot of potential risk. Put a policy in place that
Like biological viruses, digital viruses and malware love to propagate and spread themselves to as many computers as possible. One of the easiest ways for them to do that is through a local network. If you allow someone with an infected computer to connect your business' network whatever is on their computer will spread to every other connected computer.
To keep you system clean don't allow other personal computers to join your network, including through your wifi. If you want to offer customers or other people a wifi network to join while at your shop, make sure it is separate from one your work computers use.
Lack of Backup Data
One of the biggest reasons that ransomware is successful is because more often than not, the infected computer or network is the sole place a person or business' critical data resides. There are no backups, meaning the ransomware controls everything. Having a backup of all of your data that is not on your shop's network is one the most important things you can do, as we mentioned above if you store your backups on your network, they will be affected by ransomware as well.
At least once a week, backup all your data on a hard drive or server that only connects to your network for the purpose of creating a backup. This way, if you do get hit by ransomware, you can just have your computers wiped clean and restored with the backup you create weekly.
Ransomware can be pretty scary and cause a lot of damage if you are unprepared. Make sure you are ready by putting safeguards and best practices around email, web browsing, and network access at your business.
Finally, ensure that your data backed up regularly and stored somewhere that isn't on your shop's network. Keep your data safe and secure, so even if you do get hit by ransomware, you don't have to worry about losing everything.