Are You Prepared for a Ransomware Attack?

Do you know how you would respond if a virus infected your computer network and held all of your files for ransom?

If you don’t, now is the time to start thinking about a response.

The FBI recently issued a “Public Service Announcement” to warn about the continued threat of ransomware.  Ransomware, as the name implies, is a type of malicious software that holds a computer system or files for ransom until a monetary amount is paid.  Ransomware, along with phishing and spearphishing attacks, is just another tool in the cyber criminal’s arsenal.

The scheme starts with an unsuspecting victim who has clicked on an infected e-mail, downloaded an infected attachment, or visited an infected website.  The virus works its way through the person’s computer or network, encrypting all of the files.  After encryption, usually the only way for the victim to get those files back is to pay the criminal some type of ransom payment.

Businesses should be aware of the increase in ransomware attacks.  The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center has said that, from April 2014 to June 2015, there were 992 complaints about CryptoWall, one particular type of ransomware.  The victims of these attacks reported losses of at least $18 million. 

These attacks can severely cripple a business.  If you have files on your computer network that you need to access every day—patient records, billing information, e-mails— what would you do if someone was holding them hostage?  We take it for granted, but in this digital age, it would be tough to operate a business without access to your computer network.

Before it gets to that point, the FBI offers the following recommendations for preventing an attack:

  • Always use antivirus software and a firewall;
  • Enable popup blockers;
  • Always back up the content on your computer; and
  • Don’t click on any suspicious links or attachments or visit suspicious websites.

One other consideration for small businesses is that you may want to investigate investing in routine off-site data back-up and restoration.

If you have questions about ransomware or have suffered a ransomware attack, please contact our office at 814-870-7600 or complete this form on our website.