Ransomware, malware, viruses. How to stay one step ahead of cyber attack.

As technology gets smarter, so too do the cyber criminals. These days, cybercrime is so clever not even technologies like Point of Sale systems, ATMs and routers are immune to attack. Whether you’re running a home office or a major corporation security breaches can, and will, happen.

The best way to combat cyber attack is to ensure your own systems are one step ahead. When it comes to protecting your business from attack, it’s worth knowing that some viruses and malware are much worse than others.

The occurrence of encrypted ransomware has been on the rise over the last few years. This particularly nasty malware has been responsible for causing havoc for both personal and business computer networks. While some forms of the virus originate from amateurs and are easy to recover from, there are many other versions that are stealthy, clever and hugely destructive.

If your office isn’t running adequate protection or backup procedures, you may be vulnerable to attack.

What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a malicious virus that denies a user access to their computer or files until a ransom is paid. If you are hit by ransomware you may find you’re not able to open files because they are encrypted. Or, you may find a lock screen when you turn on your computer demanding payment (normally via Bitcoin).

A recent report* from IBM’s Security Services team reported that 2015 has been the “year of ransomware”. IBM estimated that USD$18 million has been handed over in ransoms from users hoping to regain access to vital files.

Sometimes, the ransomware is amateur and doesn’t do much more than scare the user. Known as ‘scareware’, this form of malware will bombard the user with bogus antivirus notifications claiming there has been multiple issues or security breaches and a payment is required to fix them. This malware is normally easy to remove.

A lock-screen ransomware virus can be more serious. The user is prevented from using their PC by a locked screen, sometimes showing bogus FBI or police branding. The really nasty version of ransomware is encrypted ransomware where a user’s files are encrypted and locked until a ransom is paid.

How do I combat ransomware?

Occasionally System Restore can be used to roll Windows back and return your system files to their original state. Sometimes, this is not always enough to combat against the most malicious strains of ransomware. The safest way to protect your business from cyber attack is to make sure your backup system is up to the job. Secure offsite backup and the ability to recover data quickly and efficiently are essential.

What is the best type of backup for my business?

Running the best possible data protection and recovery systems will mean the difference between a small hiccup and the worst day of your life. There are a few things to consider when setting up your office backup.

Make sure you test data loss and data restore scenarios. Monitor backups on a regular basis to make sure they’re doing what they’re supposed to.
The best types of backup software should provide email notifications on success and failures.

There are a few different ways you can make sure your office data is secure. The most secure and effective backup system is one where data is stored offsite.

Local Storage: While this is better than no backup at all, keeping your data stored in the same place as your computers does not safeguard you against fire or theft. Local backups can be rotated offsite to prevent loss in the event of fire or theft, but as a manual process it is easily forgotten.

Cloud Storage: Files are backed up to the cloud, putting a safe distance between your data and your office. Restores and backups can be slow, so you’ll need to check your internet connection is up to scratch.

Local Storage and Cloud Storage combination: This is the best of both worlds. This strategy allows for fast backups and restores, as well as safe, offsite cloud storage.

Be aware that it’s not only viruses or malware that can cause a data disaster. There are many ways that data loss can happen. These include:

  • Hard disk failure
  • Human error
  • Theft
  • Software corruption
  • Natural disaster

With cyber criminals standing to gain both fame and fortune from cyber attacks, we continue to see nastier viruses and malware popping up each year. It’s essential that your protection and backup procedures keep you one step ahead of the criminals.

The Computer Professor can tailor make a backup solution to suit your needs. Making sure you can get on with normal operations if a cyber attack does occur is one of the most important things you can do for your business.