Ransomware has been in the news lately as a string of attacks has hit healthcare systems in at least four states. Is it coincidence that these attacks hit when healthcare systems are already under unusual strain due to the COVID pandemic? Probably not. The criminals who coordinate these attacks take advantage of vulnerable organizations and populations.
Medical organizations are especially vulnerable because they simply can’t afford for their patient files to be compromised when lives are at stake. Other factors that make a target attractive are:
- Organizations that routinely store sensitive data, like law firms
- Universities, due to the sheer amount of file sharing and traditionally small IT support departments
- Retailers, or any company with customer credit card data
- But, really, any company with confidential personal or financial data!
And, although many attacks are targeted, some simply spread via the internet.
What, exactly, is ransomware?
Like the name suggests, ransomware is an attack that takes your files hostage for ransom. An attack uses a file that encrypts or blocks access to targeted files on your computer or network. After it infects your computer, it displays a message instructing you to pay up or lose your data or functionality. The message itself gives instructions for payment. Paying is no guarantee you’ll get your files back – these are criminals, after all!
Some attacks are straightforward, some claim to be from law enforcement agencies, and still others are disguised as antivirus software. One of the most famous attacks, 2013’s CryptoLocker, infected hundreds of thousands of computers.
Ransomware attacks can target home users as well as businesses that have IT support, and can have a catastrophic affect due to:
- Temporary or permanent loss of data
- Disruption of operations
- Cost to restore files
- Loss of client trust
Is my company vulnerable?
Any company of any size can be a target, but whether or not your company falls victim is influenced by certain factors, like:
- How attractive your data might be to a hacker
- How important it is to your company that you respond quickly to an attack
- How strong your security is, and if you have good IT support
- How prepared your employees are to recognize a potential attack
Ransomware can spread from computer to computer, through social media as an attachment, from phishing emails with attachments, and can even be unknowingly downloaded from an infected website.
How can I protect my business?
Any business can be a target, but there are security measures you should take to make it less likely:
- Regularly back up computers
- Keep all your devices up to date with security patches
- Keep firewalls on
- Use reputable antivirus software and keep it running
- Train your employees to recognize phishing attempts
- Call NSG for all the above, and more. Because you’re not an IT company – but we are.
At Network Services Group we provide full IT support. NSG can keep your servers and workstations up to date, verify backups, scan for viruses and malware, and check system health. We’ve served businesses in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Howell, Brighton, Hartland, Pinckney, Novi, Farmington, Wixom, Adrian, Detroit, Troy, and surrounding areas for over 15 years.
Contact Us or give us a call at (877) 815-6974 to schedule a consultation.
We’ll take care of your security so you can focus on what you do best – running your business!