Business Preparedness against ransomware

It is perhaps the scariest of computer infections. Ransomware is not out to steal your files or capture your passwords; what it does is potentially much, much worse for your business.

Unlike other computer infections, ransomware is designed to encrypt your business files, blocking access to those records until you pay a ransom to get the decryption key. That type of encryption can be deadly to any business.

If you doubt the danger and enormous potential threat posed by ransomware, just think about what would happen if none of your employees could access their files for an extended period of time. How would you serve your clients? How would you do your work? How would you explain the situation to your customers?

The best way to protect your business from a ransomware attack is to stop it from happening in the first place. That means keeping your computers and servers up to date, applying the latest patches and maintaining a solid hardware and software firewall. It means training your employees and employing a robust spam server on your email system. It means remaining constantly vigilant and responding to the early warning signs of an infection. Sometimes, however, all the proactive measures in the world are not effective, and your business ends up infected with ransomware.

What do you do then? What happens when you, or one of your team members, tries to open a file and finds it suddenly encrypted? How do you respond to the inevitable ransom demand? The steps you take in response to a ransomware attack matter a great deal, and your reaction will play a big role in the future of your business.

It is important to act fast if you suspect a ransomware infection. Ransomware works by encrypting files at the targeted company, but that encryption does not happen all at once. If you suspect a problem, you may be able to mitigate the damage by doing a quick backup of your most vital files. You can use external hard drives, thumb drives or other devices to capture known-good copies of those files in case the worst happens.

You should also immediately remove the suspect computers and servers from the Internet and your internal network. Ransomware can encrypt your files in a matter of seconds, so pull the Ethernet cable to disconnect the devices and stop the infection from spreading. This method is not foolproof, and some files may still be compromised, but it can be a good way to reduce the amount of damage - and the amount of work it will take to recover your precious business files.

Report the Crime

Ransomware is more than a serious danger to your business - it is also a serious crime. You should report the ransomware attack as soon as you can, not only to protect yourself but to let other business owners know that they could also be at risk.

Report any suspected ransomware attacks to the FBI right away, and provide the authorities with as much information as you can. Relevant information for the federal authorities include the date and approximate time of the infection, the name of the company, the type of ransomware used and how the infection occurred, i.e. web browsing, email links, etc.

You may not have all of this information, but once the investigation gets underway the authorities will be able to determine what type of ransomware is being used and possibly trace its source as well. In the meantime, you can start assembling file backups and get ready to recover your data.

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