The big news in the online security world over the past few weeks was WannaCry – a Ransomware attack that infected over 300,000 Windows PCs in over 150 countries, demanding users fork over $300 (or more) to unlock their machines. 

For now, WannaCry is over, but the magnitude of this ransomware attack can convince copycat cyber criminals to give it a try themselves, as some people were reported to have paid the ransom. As of May 15, the hackers reportedly got away with $50,000 in bitcoin, however, the economic impact of the attack was much costlier, with economists estimating productivity losses of up to $4 billion. That makes us want to...well, cry.  

With WannaCry in the past but still fresh in our minds, we feel that dealing with ransomware and planning for an attack should be a high-priority item for IT managers to address in upcoming months. 

Below are some things to consider for preventing ransomware and dealing with ransomware in case your company becomes one of the next victims.

Get Serious About Preventing Ransomware 

Ransomware is not ransomware. There is usually an event that triggers an infection. At the end user level, not everyone is educated enough to understand the gateways hackers use to get into a network. We recommend holding a seminar with your employees to raise awareness of social engineering techniques, avoiding clickbait and which attachments should and shouldn’t be opened.  

Getting everyone on board with preventing ransomware may take a lunch-and-learn or a half-day seminar, but wasting a few hours of productivity today can save you a week's worth of productivity in the event a ransomware attack cripples your business. 

Preventing Ransomware by Staying True to Your Update Schedule

When Windows detects a vulnerability, it will usually patch the problem quickly. When Windows leaves a door wide open on an outdated version, hackers take advantage. Always update your machines when prompted. This can get messy when end users are responsible for the update cycle on their own machines. A virtualized cloud desktop can make updates easier, as you can upgrade your entire office with one button click. Critical reactionary updates should always be installed immediately, while regular Windows updates should always be scheduled. 
Along with properly updating operating systems, app whitelisting, app patching and minimizing administrative privileges can minimize 85% of malware risks a business may encounter.

Dealing with Ransomware is Easy if You Back That Cache Up

Wondering how to respond to ransomware is much easier if you know that all you need to do is revert your system back to where it was before the attack occurred. If your data lives in the cloud and you have a disaster recovery software solution in place, simply factory reset your machine, revert to your back up and get back to work. Dealing with ransomware has never been easier.

Dealing with Ransomware if You Can’t Backup 

The best piece of advice we can give about ransomware is to simply not pay the ransom. If you do, you’ll likely end up losing $300 and probably won’t get your data back. When hackers infect 300,000 machines, they’re not going to respond to your single request. They’re too busy and don’t care. If you pay, the hackers will know that you’re vulnerable, and may try to exploit you for more later. Plus, putting money in their pockets can help fund future attacks – where you again, could be a victim. They wouldn’t do it if it didn’t work. If you’re dealing with ransomware, please, contact the FBI first and sit tight. There’s a chance you can recover your data. If you don’t need your data but just want to get back on your feet consider it a learning experience - reset and start over.

Get Serious About Preventing Ransomware

Dealing with ransomware is not a problem when you partner with a trusted managed services company specializing in cloud security, virtualization and disaster recovery solutions. ThrottleNet can help you identify and address vulnerabilities, providing full-service IT outsourcing solutions to help fuel your business. Contact us today to learn how.