In 2021, it is estimated that ransomware attacks against businesses will occur every 11 seconds – with the average cost of remediating a ransomware attack as high as nearly $2 million, according to a recent Sophos Survey.
Ransomware attacks can quickly turn into a nightmare for many businesses. What once was fairly simple to predict has now become more elaborate, targeted, advanced, and broader than ever before. Consequently, the impact is also much more detrimental. With more than 4,000 attacks daily and an average 19-day downtime for businesses recovering from a ransomware attack, the need for professional ransomware prevention, removal, and mitigation is the key to keeping your assets secure. The Absolute Performance, Inc. team works hard to protect your assets against ransomware attacks, and ensures a smooth and quick removal and recovery in the event that an attack does happen.
What Is Ransomware?
Ransomware is malware that employs encryption to hold a victim’s information at ransom. A user’s or organization’s critical data is encrypted so that they cannot access files, databases, or applications. A ransom is then demanded to provide access. Ransomware is often designed to spread across a network and target databases and file servers, and can thus quickly paralyze an entire organization. It is a growing threat, generating billions of dollars in payments to cybercriminals and inflicting significant damage and expenses for businesses and governmental organizations. With more products like ransomware as a service (RaaS) on the rise, making ransomware attacks even more accessible and affordable to hackers across the globe, ensuring your systems are protected will become even more critical to businesses of every size.
- Never click on unsafe links. Avoid clicking on links in spam messages or on unknown websites. If you click on malicious links, an automatic download could be started, which could lead to your computer being infected.
- Do not open suspicious email attachments. Ransomware can also find its way to your device through email attachments. Avoid opening any dubious-looking attachments. To make sure the email is trustworthy, pay close attention to the sender and check that the address is correct. Never open attachments that prompt you to run macros to view them. If the attachment is infected, opening it will run a malicious macro that gives malware control of your computer.
- Only use secure networks. Avoid using public Wi-Fi networks, since many of them are not secure, and cybercriminals can snoop on your internet usage. Instead, consider setting up a VPN, which provides you with a secure connection to the internet no matter where you go.
- Stay informed. Keep current on the latest ransomware threats so you know what to look out for. In case you do get a ransomware infection and have not backed up all your files, know that some decryption tools are made available by tech companies to help victims.
- Avoid disclosing personal information. If you receive a call, text message, or email from an untrusted source requesting personal information, do not reply. Cybercriminals who are planning a ransomware attack might try to collect personal information in advance, which is then used to tailor phishing messages specifically to you. If in any doubt as to whether the message is legitimate, contact the sender directly.
- Back up your data. The best way to avoid the threat of being locked out of your critical files is to ensure that you always have backup copies of them, preferably in the cloud and on an external hard drive. This way, if you do get a ransomware infection, you can wipe your computer or device and reinstall your files from backup. This protects your data and you won’t be tempted to reward the malware authors by paying a ransom. Backups won’t prevent ransomware, but they can mitigate the risks.
- Secure your backups. Make sure your backup data is immutable or not accessible for modification or deletion from the systems where the data resides. Ransomware will look for data backups and encrypt or delete them so they cannot be recovered, so use backup systems that do not allow direct access to backup files.
How do you know if your computer is infected?
- Anti-virus scanner sounds an alarm. If the device has a virus scanner, it can detect ransomware infection early, unless it has been bypassed.
- Check file extension. The normal extension of an image file is “.jpg”. If this extension has changed to an unfamiliar combination of letters, there may be a ransomware infection.
- Name change. Do files have different names than those you gave them? The malicious program often changes the file name when it encrypts data. This could be a clue.
- Increased CPU and disk activity. Increased disk or main processor activity may indicate that ransomware is working in the background.
- Dubious network communication. Software interacting with the cybercriminal or with the attacker’s server may result in suspicious network communication.
- Encrypted files. A late sign of ransomware activity is that files can’t be opened.
- Ransom Notification. Finally, a window containing a ransom demand confirms that there is a ransomware infection. The earlier the threat is detected, the easier it is to combat the malware. Early detection of an encryption Trojan infection can help to determine what type of ransomware has infected the end device. Many extortion Trojans delete themselves once the encryption has been executed so that they cannot be examined and decrypted.
Absolute Performance, Inc. specializes in ransomware removal. Our team is able to restore your systems, clean up the damage caused by the attack, and strengthen your cybersecurity posture from the inside out. Our ransomware removal process includes:
- Isolate The Infection: We disconnect the affected device(s) from the network, internet, and other devices to reduce the likelihood of the virus spreading. Time is critical in this phase of ransomware removal as delays in isolating the infection could take an attack from a moderate inconvenience to a major catastrophe in a matter of hours.
- Stop The Spread: Immediate isolation of the infected device(s) still won’t guarantee that ransomware doesn’t exist elsewhere in your network. Because ransomware moves quickly, we work to disconnect all devices that may be behaving suspiciously to reduce the risk of spread.
- Assess The Damage: We scan your networks and devices for recently encrypted files, files with strange extension names, or users having trouble opening files to determine which devices may have been infected. If any devices have incomplete encryptions, these can be isolated in order to contain the attack and prevent further damage.
- Locate Patient Zero: We investigate the infected devices, files, and any active monitoring platforms to identify the source of the virus, which makes tracking the infection and remediation considerably easier.
- Identify The Ransomware: We identify which variant of ransomware we are working with so that we can better understand its behavior and alert unaffected users of the warning signs of infection.
- Evaluate Your Backups: Now that we have taken the steps to slow the spread of the virus, we can begin the response process. We employ an antivirus/antimalware solution to clean up any remaining ransomware, restore your systems from an uninfected backup, and confirm all data is restored and systems are back up and running properly. If no backups are available, or your backup files have also been corrupted by the ransomware, we work with you to restore your systems from the ground up.
- Mitigate & Prevent Future Attacks: Our 24/7 monitoring and management services provide comprehensive support and protection from ransomware attacks. We frequently backup your systems and utilize antivirus solutions to block future attacks.
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