For Windows users, tips on fighting ransomware attacks


Ransomware.

It’s one word that strikes fear in the minds of many a computer user, especially given the near daily headlines about companies affected. It makes us wonder why this keeps happening to users and businesses, large and small.

But there’s plenty you can do to protect yourself or your business.

Be wary of what you click on

Most of the time, ransomware that affects an individual happens after someone clicks on something they shouldn’t — maybe a phishing-related email or a web page that installs malicious files. In a business setting, the attacks often come from an attacker going after open remote access protocol, either using brute force or harvested credentials. Once inside the network, they can disable backups and lie in wait until the best time to attack.

Ransomware is not new. Its history dates back to 1989. Back then, the lure was a floppy disk that installed a virus, which on the third day asked for money to get the computer information back. More recently, it was used against Colonial Pipeline, a gas delivery pipeline company on the East Coast. That attack led to a run on gas, closed gas stations, angry drivers, and bad publicity (and a reported payout in the millions of dollars) for the pipeline company. It was a real-world example of what ransomware can do to businesses.

Backups, backups, backups

I co-moderate a Facebook group on the topic of security and ransomware. Often, when a user comes to us to ask how to recover from a ransomware attack, our only recommendation is to ask whether they have a good backup. By that, I mean one that is run on a regular basis and stored on an external hard drive that is “air gapped” from your computer. If you can access the drive your backup is stored on, so can your attacker. So make sure that you rotate backup media and always have a copy that is offline and not connected to your system.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.





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