It wasn’t so long ago that a computer virus attack presented nothing more than an unfortunate disturbance to the work day. One machine gets infected and you’d have IT support clean it up and get it back into service.
Today’s ransomware changes this dynamic – and with potentially dire consequences. Ransomware encrypts your files, turning them into worthless scrambled bits of data. Nobody – not even your anti-virus company – can unlock the files. You can’t go to another machine and access them. You can’t copy them off and run them through some cleaner. They are junk. Decryption can occur only if the person who encrypted them provides the decryption password. Typically, the hackers demand money to be paid in bitcoin. Should you pay? Probably not. The hackers more than likely won’t unlock your data and will just vanish with your money. Can you clear it off your network? It's impossible. This puts your business in an extremely vulnerable situation.
Your only viable recovery choice is to restore data from your backup
In the event of a ransomware attack, there are steps you can take to recover your data. Your most effective recovery option is to have current data backups. You may assume that your servers are set up to back up their data every night, or that your IT tech is handling it. Are they? Do you know for sure that you have a backup of your data from yesterday? What about last week? We have customers who have experienced hardware failures, only to realize that they hadn’t had a backup in 6 months or longer, or worse, that there’s no backup at all.
Backups help your business move forward vs. starting over
Given today’s risks, it is imperative that you determine where you stand with your backups. Ask your IT specialist to restore a backup from the previous day to a test location on your network or on a separate machine. You’ll quickly identify any backup gaps such as data that’s not backing up properly, an incompatibility issue, that a piece of software is out of date – or whether there’s a backup at all. All of these factors should be checked frequently so that you aren’t caught without a way to get your business online quickly and with the least pain possible.
Cyber attacks are inevitable
The reality is that ransomware and other destructive programs will eventually get on your machines regardless of the processes you have in place. In recent years, we have seen nation states create sophisticated viruses that are designed to penetrate machines that aren’t even connected to a network. The virus hides in phones, in USB devices, on CD’s and DVD’s, in new hardware from the manufacturer, and there are even viruses that spread into chips that can activate even when your computer is turned off. There is a concerted effort being made by smart people to break into your business and hold your data hostage. At some point, they will succeed.
Backing up your data properly is a critical part of your business.
If you have a solid backup plan in place that is checked/tested frequently, you will have options to bring your company back online quickly. It gives you the peace of mind that, regardless of what happens, you know that you can revert to your backed up data with minimal downtime.
Feel confident knowing your network is safe from today’s cyber threats. Check your backups as soon as possible to verify for yourself that they are working properly. Choose not to ensure the integrity of your backups and you could lose much more than your data -- you risk losing your business.
If you're dealing with a machine that has been hijacked or contains a virus or malware, we suggest the following…
For more information on how to regain control in the event of a ransomware attack, check out "What to do if you're infected by ransomware: A step-by-step guide".
Microsoft recently issued a security update and patch for Windows XP, Windows 8 and Windows Server 2003. It was done in response to the recent "WannaCry" ransomware campaign where the trio was identified as points of vulnerability. On June 27th, another ransomware outbreak occurred which seemed to be spreading via some of the same Windows code loopholes exploited by WannaCry.
If you are running Windows XP, Windows 8 or Windows Server 2003, you will have to manually download and install the update. It does not exist as an auto-update.
ASI is proud to continue its sponsor support of NAID Shred School in 2017. Shred School is designed to provide affordable training to all secure destruction industry professionals and NAID active members in an effort to improve their businesses. Attendees are introduced to the secure destruction industry, data protection legislation, sales tips, marketing best practices, and NAID programs. CSDS can even earn continuing education units.
Security experts agree that the level of threat posed by cyber attacks today is severe and shows no signs of slowing down. Your computer system is the heart of your operation. Like a heart, it must be cared for and protected to minimize the chance of a damaging - or deadly - attack. Below are 5 actions you can take TODAY to defend the heart of your business against these malicious purveyors of malware.
For more information about protecting your business against ransomware, check out:
NAID Shred School
Los Angeles, CA
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