If you don’t want to pay a ransom for data you already own, be it important files on your computer, server or even your website; you’re not alone.

Ransomware has been a hot topic for a while now but as with most things, we all think it won’t happen to us. WannaCry was a harsh reminder that these attacks can happen to anyone. There has been a flurry of questions going around, how does it affect my business, how does it spread and more importantly what can be done to protect yourself from the threat? Gradwell offer a range of services that can help businesses never lose data again.

What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a form of malware deployed on a user’s computer or a company’s server/network that blocks access to data be it content files, emails or even databases. This data is then irretrievable until the ransom requested is paid to the hacker

Ransomware spreads generally by two entry points.

The first of which is a tool most of us use daily, Email. A recipient receives an email and is asked to download a file or simply click on a hyperlink. The email is generally carefully crafted and made to look legitimate. The email sender’s identity could be masked and even look like it is coming from a friend or colleague leaving you to lower your defenses and follow its request. Once you click on the link or download the file, this activates the ransomware. The second entry point is usually system vulnerabilities. A malicious network packet is sent to the vulnerable system, from either the local network (internally) or from the internet (externally).

What happens in ransomware infected computer systems?

Ransomware will target a set of file types and start encrypting them with a specific code. This code is only known to the ransomware creator. A ransom email is then sent to the infected business user asking them to pay up. If the ransom is paid, the decryption code is released to the business user so that the infected files can be unlocked. If the ransomware is not paid, the files may remain locked forever.

How did WannaCry happen?

WannaCry happened because many business organisations and consumers did not keep their Microsoft Windows operating system updated despite Microsoft releasing such updates when it became public knowledge that the NSA (US National Security Agency) discovered this vulnerability. For large companies, this could have happened due to complacency or negligence but for SMBs and consumers, ignorance and the general lack of knowledge or time to install the patch were the likely culprits.

What can be done to avoid being affected?

The reality is, people make mistakes in judgement all the time and even the most powerful anti-virus software is not foolproof — and that’s how data breaches like this keep happening. Here is some basic advice:

(1) Ensure all your software is up-to-date including your operating system (e.g. Windows). (2) Deploy anti-virus software and make sure it is also up-to-date, (3) Backup and encrypt your data, such as cloud backup in an offsite data center, (4) Be vigilant and educate/train your staff about how ransomware spreads to help mitigate user error as the point of entry.

How can Gradwell help businesses protect their data?

New versions of malware are being created by hackers constantly with ransomware being one of the most prevalent at present. As such while it is important to keep everything up to date and deploy anti-virus software to minimise attacks, the truth is you may still be subject to an attack. As such it is crucial you have your data backed up and secured.

We offer two services to help with this, our general Cloud Backup can be used to back up your local machines and servers from as little as £4.99 a month. So if you do get caught out by any such malware, in a few simple clicks you can restore your data to your machine or server and carry on as usual.

We also have a website backup tool which is included free on our Premier Hosting package. So again if you are subject to an attack on your website, you can rest assured you are backed up and can restore the website in a few simple clicks.



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