Hospitals, academic institutions and well-known companies in 150 countries fell victim in May to “WannaCry” ransomware, a global cyberattack that infected more than 200,000 Windows computers, including those in the United States, Britain, Germany, China, Japan and South Korea. Most experts agree that the crisis is far from over and a number of imitators will be following suit.
WannaCry victims have ranged from large to small organizations in every sector of business: governmental agencies, private companies and large public companies, including FedEx.
Ransomware is a type of malicious software (i.e., malware) that locks victims out of their computers and demands payment in order to restore access. Typically, payment must be made within three to four days before the encryption key is destroyed, which renders the affected files unreadable — forever.
“While international ransomware attacks are an increasing problem for all users of the internet, the most important step to fighting back is being aware of the risks, and implementing key steps to help reduce the risk,” says certified ethical hacker Nick Graf, Risk Control Consulting Director, Information Security, CNA.
What can your business do to help safeguard its data?
Although there is no way to completely banish the risk of falling victim to a cyberattack, Graf suggests that a company take these proven, preventative measures:
Proceed with caution when opening email attachments, even when they appear to come from someone you know; likewise, don’t download software from untrustworthy or unfamiliar websites.
Ensure that your operating system and third-party software (i.e., Internet browsers, Flash, Java and Adobe Reader) are properly patched.
Utilize antivirus software with up-to-date definitions. It’s important to note that antivirus will not catch all malware.
Knowledge is power, and being informed and prepared is often the best way to ensure that a cyber attacker doesn’t hold your computer hostage. Learn the two additional ways that businesses can fight back against ransomware attacks.