As a MSP, we’re all too familiar with frantic calls from prospects whose hardware have been infected with Ransomware. You can hear the panic in their voices as they ask for immediate help. Though they want us to rush in like the A-Team of IT and fix their problems, we always make sure we have a conversation first. The reason being? We want the client educated on the probable outcome before they spend any money on ransomware removal. Bottom line, it’s too late to save anything.
Ransomware Is a Serious Threat
We’ll start by giving you some perspective. Ransomware has been on the rise. In Q1 of 2015 alone, there was an increase in ransomware attacks by 165 percent. And cyber security news this year is abuzz with reports of businesses falling prey to these malicious threats. Hospitals and other healthcare institutions have been attacked and computer systems have been held for ransom to the sum of $17,000 or more.
In fact, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center received 992 complaints about the CryptoWall ransomware last year. Ultimately, victims reported more than $18 million in losses. The situation is often so bad that the FBI advises businesses to “just pay the ransom” rather than attempt ransomware removal. The FBI! If that tells you anything about the situation, it’s clear that you need an exit strategy before you even begin.
Why Ransomware Removal Is So Tough
The newer ransomware is deceitfully very good software. It locks you out of your data and then goes looking for more victims on your network. If you’ve got one infection, you are likely to get more.
Our best solution, rather than ransomware removal, is to restore from a good backup, but then we find out frequently the client was just protecting their servers, not the PC’s data.
Sadly, no one is safe. Large and small businesses get hacked with the same frequency. Even family photos and personal information can get swept up in a ransomware attack. It’s always sad when our clients lose personal memories. Though their business data might be safe on a protected server, their personal files are usually not and are lost when we have to fully wipe an infected PC. Worst of all is this can be prevented.
Avoiding the Threat from Ransomware Attacks
Staying one step ahead of ransomware attacks takes preparation. Backing up your critical data is one of the most important steps you can take. Ask your MSP which tools they use; a multilayered approach is required for security as no single vendor can or should “do it all” when critical data is involved.
Additionally, make sure your staff recognizes there are simply some emails they shouldn’t open. If you get an attachment from an unknown sender, you should delete it. Train your staff to be careful, but also block websites you know are malicious. Since removing ransomware isn’t an option, you can’t take any risks.
There are also solid security tools and business processes to protect your organization. Have a frank conversation with your IT provider. I’ve said it 100 times before, but with data security an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It may be the only thing between you and total data loss.