Hacking for ransom is on the rise. Typically, hackers gain access to your computer systems and either block access to your systems or threaten to release sensitive data unless a ransom is paid. In most cases, the hackers demand that their ransom is paid by bitcoin, a virtual currency.
According to the Associated Press, last year’s 2,453 reports of ransomware hackings totaled a reported loss of $24.1 million, making up nearly one-third of the complaints over the past decade. They also represented 41 percent of the $57.6 million in reported losses since 2005. Such losses are significantly higher than any paid ransoms because companies routinely include remediation costs, lost productivity, legal fees and sometimes even the price of lost data in their estimates.
The following are 5 great solutions to help make your less vulnerable to ransomware attacks – and cyber attacks in general:
MAKE SAFE AND SECURE BACKUPS
It’s a good idea to back up files to a drive that remains entirely disconnected from your network. Ransomware has become increasingly sophisticated and effective at separating users from the contents of their computers. For example, sometimes it targets backup files on an external drive. You should make multiple backups — to cloud services and using physical disk drives, at regular and frequent intervals.
UPDATE AND PATCH YOUR SYSTEMS
Updating software will take care of some bad vulnerabilities. Browsers such as Chrome will automatically update behind the scenes, saving you the time and deterring hackers.
USE ANTIVIRUS SOFTWARE
It’s basic, but using antivirus software will at least protect you from the most basic, well-known viruses by scanning your system against the known fingerprints of these viruses. Low-end criminals take advantage of less savvy users with such known viruses even though malware is constantly changing and antivirus software is frequently days behind detecting it.
EDUCATE YOUR WORKFORCE
Basic cyber hygiene such as ensuring workers don’t click on questionable links or open suspicious attachments can save headaches. System administrators should ensure that employees don’t have unnecessary access to parts of the network that aren’t critical to their work. This helps limit the spread of ransomware if hackers do get into your system.
IF HIT, DON’T WAIT AND SEE
When hackers recently hit a large hospital chain, hospital administrators shut down their network as soon as they discovered ransomware on their systems. That action prevented the continued encryption — and possible loss — of more files. Hackers will sometimes encourage you to keep your computer on and attached to the network. Don’t be fooled!