Protecting your business from Ransomware attacks

Published: Oct. 25, 2021 at 3:29 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - It’s one of the most intimidating cyber attacks we face: Ransomware. We’ve seen it take down companies that control gas pipelines, hospitals, and doctors’ offices. Even school systems and local governments have been attacked.

It’s a crime even the White House is tracking closely. Ransomware payments reached more than $400 million globally in 2020 and topped $81 million in the first quarter of this year.

Ransomware is a form of malware that encrypts files on a victim’s computer or server, making them unusable.

FBI Supervisory Special Agent Christopher Cope says it’s one of the most costly crimes businesses face. “Somebody opens up a trusted email. Clicks on a link and the next thing you know they are infected with ransomware and it shuts down an entire company,” said Cope.

Cybercriminals will demand a ransom in exchange for providing a key to decrypt the victim’s files. These attacks are becoming more frequent, more targeted, and more sophisticated.

“It’s super-profitable for cybercriminals It’s easy to infect people,” said Sean McDermott is the intelligence analyst for the Richmond division of the FBI’s cyber squad. He says it’s a crime of opportunity any company can be hit.

“Most often it’s large companies only because they tend to pay the most ransom. they have the most to lose and so that’s why we see a lot of large companies but any end-user can be affected,” said McDermott.

It’s why the FBI does not recommend you pay the ransom. In many cases -- the files are not returned if you do. Instead, the agency says to focus on securing your network. Which can be as simple as making sure you download every software update.

McDermott says it’s also a good idea to keep backups of your system offline. “Having a good backup. A robust backup system is very crucial because you don’t want to have your backups connected to the same system that you’re actually backing up or else the way that ransomware works is they can move through a network very quickly,” said McDermott.

Make sure your anti-virus and anti-malware solutions are set to automatically update and run regular scans. Regularly keep your employees and coworkers informed about the type of emails not to open. And create a plan to keep your business running in the event of a cyber attack.

Copyright 2021 WWBT. All rights reserved.

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