Serious threat: What is Ransomware and What You Need to Know

what is ransomware

Ransomware is the latest in a long line of internet security threats. While spyware, malware, viruses, bugs, or a dozen other forms of Internet infections have been in existence since the very day the World Wide Web went live, ransomware has grabbed the majority of headlines of late, and for a good reason. Most recently, the Colonial Pipeline, which pumps fuel throughout the United States eastern seaboard, was hit with a ransomware attack and, in the end, paid millions of dollars to have the cybercriminals remove the ransomware files from the company’s network.

However, there are smaller attacks hitting individuals and companies throughout the world daily. These kinds of threats are elevating in number. Sometimes there’s no rhyme or reason as to why a particular person or business is targeted, but you have to assume sooner or later your company will fall into the crosshair of a cyber-criminal. To defend against this, you need to know what is ransomware and how to defend yourself best.

What is Ransomware?

With this kind of Internet security threat so prevalent nowadays, it is good to know what it is. Most of the time, when malware or other forms of viruses work their way onto your network, the infection is designed to siphon off important information. Plenty of big-name corporations have experienced security breaches of this kind, like Target and Home Depot. However, Ransomware takes it a step further.

Ransomware, in many ways, starts similarly to malware. It sneaks its way onto your network. It could pass through bit by bit, be invited in through an employee clicking an infected link, or it might find an opening through an IoT device. However, it ends up on the network, and it will begin pulling important information from your network.

This is where it becomes more complicated. After siphoning off the information from your network, it will then spring to life and take control of the computer. It basically locks you out of the computer. In some cases, cybercriminals may gain control not only of your computer but of anything running over your network.

The cybercriminal will then contact you via the attacked computer. It will hold what is known as a double-ransom. This means you need to pay a ransom first to unlock your computer and second to prevent the leak of the siphoned-off information. A few years ago, ransomware was only about shutting down your computer system, but in the evolution of cybercriminals, they have effectively combined both malware and ransomware to make this double-ransom.

What Are You To Do?

So what happens if your network comes under attack by ransomware? Hopefully, this never happens, but if it does, you first need to disconnect your computer from the Internet altogether. Don’t just turn off the router and modem. You need to disconnect all Ethernet cables and make sure your computer is fully cut off from the Internet. This will prevent the cybercriminal from moving forward with any kind of ransom.

Now, run any kind of anti-virus software you have on your computer. If you’re unable to boot up the computer, try to shut it down and start it up in safe mode. This will launch only essential files. This might work, and you might be able to run the anti-virus software, or the ransomware might still lock you out. If this happens, you will want to write down all information given to you through the ransomware message. It might appear as if a government agency is locking down your computer (it’s not a government agency. A government agency would show up with a warrant and take your computer, they wouldn’t manually lock it down over an Internet connection).

You will want to look up whatever information you can about the ransomware threat from a different computer. You might find out how to remove the files and, at the very least, get the computer operational again. Even if you do get the computer operational again, you will need to take the computer to a professional and have them comb through your hard drive and expunge every file and remnant of the ransomware. If every bit of data is not removed that is infected; the ransom might come back. You should also change all passwords of accounts to your business (as well as personal accounts that you’ve accessed from that computer).

In some cases, your system may need to be restored from a previously backed-up version. This is why it is important to create regular backups of your files.

Report The Ransom

It is important to report the attack. The FBI has a list of ransomware, and it does everything in its power to track down these cybercriminals. You can do this through the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.

Should You Ever Pay The Ransom?

No. Paying the ransom will give cybercriminals money to fuel other illegal operations. And just because they say they will remove all infected files from your computer doesn’t mean they actually will.

Elevate Your Defense Against Ransomware

The best way to make sure your company is at the forefront of defending itself against ransomware threats is to harness the power of a professional service provider. There’s only so much you can do on your own. Anti-virus software is a start, but it only goes so far, and with many of your employees likely working from home, you need to do whatever you can to heighten company-wide security.

At Charlotte IT Solutions, that is exactly what you receive. With the heightened security, you’ll have real-time updates as well as network security measures tailored to fit your business like a glove. If you’re interested in learning more, or you’re ready to take your company’s network security seriously, now is the time to give Charlotte IT Solutions a call.