Ransomware is Real, and Here’s What You Can Do About It

by Alexandrea Roman on October 28, 2016 and last updated on November 7, 2016

Imagine a world where cybercriminals can hostage your smartphone without even touching it. They remotely restrict access to certain files or lock you out of your device, and the only way you can get control again is if you pay a ransom. If you don’t hand over the money, you’ll lose access for good. Worse, these cybercriminals will most likely use your data for malicious purposes, and there’s nothing you can do. Sounds like a great premise for a James Bond movie, right? But in real life, ransomware is nothing but a nightmare for individuals and organizations alike.

ransomware, lock

Ransomware is a form of malware that takes over a device by preventing your access to files (crypto ransomware) or locking you out completely (locker ransomware). To reverse this, you need to make a complete payment before the time’s up. You can ask for an extension in some cases, but expect the ransom to double for each missed deadline.

You’d think that the cybercriminals running this scheme can be easily caught through their online footprints. Unfortunately, they know how to play the game so they’re always one step ahead. They cover their tracks by asking to be paid in an untraceable digital currency like bitcoin, making it difficult for them to be discovered. With every successful virtual heist, they become more brazen with their schemes.

You don’t have to pay if you don’t want to, of course. You can simply restore a recent backup, but that works only if your backup solutions are always updated and regularly tested. But did you know that 32 percent of IT administrators don’t test backup solutions for effectiveness? So the backup you’re depending on may not be as reliable as you think it is.

But even if your backup solutions are on top condition, the fact that your organization’s confidential information is in the hands of unknown entities is still a cause for concern. You never know what perpetrators will do with it, so you’ll be on your toes waiting for what can happen next.

Like with most things, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to ransomware. You can fight it with a combination of timely education, constant vigilance, and strong security.

Timely education

It’s hard to protect yourself from something you don’t understand or even know that exists. Because many people are still not aware of ransomware, they don’t avoid doing the things that can cause it, like forwarding infected messages or visiting questionable sites. So when you’re running an organization, you have to ensure everyone from top to bottom knows the first signs of ransomware and the extent of the dangers it carries. Invest time on training now and you’ll reap the rewards later.

Constant vigilance

Ransomware easily spreads through spam emails and social media postings. One click, and the malicious code is downloaded to your device. Thus, it’s important to be careful with what you click on. If something seems suspicious or too good to be true, just avoid and delete it. Remember, the biggest vulnerability of any system is not necessarily the technology powering it, but the people running it. The use of social engineering is an effective means for breaking down digital security.

Strong security

Education and vigilance are the two most important weapons you have against ransomware, but they can be fortified with proper security measures. Applications with a feature like fine-grained access right control ensure that you are privy only to the parts you’re authorized to view and revise. This means that if you become a victim of ransomware, cybercriminals will not be able to access the whole information database of your organization. Another feature that can help against ransomware is remote wipe. If you get locked out of your device, administrators can delete sensitive information, leaving nothing for cybercriminals to bargain with. We’re happy to say that our board portal solution, Convene, has both security features and more because we care about our clients’ right to privacy.

Ransomware is indeed dangerous, but it’s not impossible to avoid. With enough preparation on your part, you can
protect your organization and yourself from it. What steps do you take to fight against ransomware? Share your thoughts with us in the comments and contact us to schedule a free demo of Convene.

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About Alexandrea Roman

Alexandrea is a social media specialist and blogger for Convene.

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