It might sound like it has been a new buzzword in recent years, but in reality, Ransomware has been around for over two decades.  It is a form of malware, where a hacker gets into your network and begins to code and encrypt your data until they lock you out of your own files, and like the name implies, charges you a “ransom” to get your data back.

There are two primary types of Ransomware.  One that just “blocks” users from gaining access to files until the ransom is paid, and another that actually corrupts and encrypts the data so that the files cannot be read without a special “key” that they will conveniently offer to sell to you.

Unfortunately, there is no single technology that can prevent you from getting Ransomware.  User (employee) error is the primary cause when companies fall victim to Ransomware.  Here, employees unknowingly click on a malicious link in a seemingly legitimate email or on a website they are browsing, and they inadvertently open the door to hackers (we’re not blaming users, it happens).

For Ransomware, the best defense is a strong offense.  In fact, the best way to prepare yourself to weather a Ransomware attack, is by keeping your operating systems and application software up to date and by making sure that you BACK UP YOUR DATA regularly.  

The key to securing and protecting your system is by using a multi-layered approach.  A bare minimum would include a firewall and anti-virus software, educating the end users (don’t open attachments and/or links, etc.), and having a strong data backup / disaster recovery plan. Another very important key to security is to create STRONG PASSWORDS…and be sure not to reuse the same password for every site you visit. Additionally, if possible, have one computer for your business data, and another for your personal files. This will minimize your exposure to vulnerability.
Here are a few other things you can do:

-Have an up-to-date Anti-virus software installed
-Renew the Anti-virus subscriptions before they expire
-Install a good firewall, not simply a router
-Read email headers carefully before opening to make sure they’re legitimate.  As a rule of thumb, make a practice of not opening any attachments or links unless you are expecting them and are sure they are legit.
-Have multiple copies of your data, documents, pictures, etc. stored on a backup drive or cloud storage i.e. One Drive, Drop Box etc.

We often make mistakes when we get distracted or are trying to multi-task…so be careful, stay focused and practice safe computing, including implementing 2FA (Two Factor Authentication). This added buffer will give you an additional layer of security, protecting your logins for your email, phone system, and on-line banking. If you haven’t already added 2FA to your business security strategy, now is the time to start. As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Unfortunately, with malware, nothing is 100% effective, but we can certainly minimize exposure by following the proper procedures and implementing the appropriate technologies.  Speak with your tech provider and see if you’re protected adequately today, and if you have a question please don’t hesitate to contact our office.

About Tech 2020 Solutions:
Tech 2020 Solutions, Inc. is a technology company that provides vital services and solutions to our region's business community. We take a consultative approach to assist our clients deploy the proper technologies within their businesses to make them more productive, increase operational efficiency, give them a technological advantage over their competition, thus making them more revenue and increasing their overall profitability. While we have the capabilities to service and support a broad spectrum of businesses, the industries that have come to rely on our professionalism and technical expertise are typically in the Property Management & Development, Health Care, Accounting & Financial, Manufacturing, Insurance, Mortgage Brokerage and Legal. We employ a staff of professionals that truly care about your technology and the success of your company.

Power Up with John Hassler is a blog distributed by Tech 2020 Solutions, Inc. and written by John Hassler, President and Founder of the company.  To reach John, contact him at 516.876.8761 or via email at  Connect on Linked In and Facebook.