Malware, ransomware and other viruses are big business today for cyber criminals, aka bad actors.  Researchers anticipate that in 2020, a business will be attacked by bad actors every 11 seconds, and damage costs from these attacks will be over $20 billion dollars by year’s end.

Ransomware and other forms of malware are expected to target just about every industry out there including manufacturing, government, education, professional services, healthcare, utilities, the public sector, logistics, construction, financial services and many others.  Whether you’re a small home office, medium-sized business, or large enterprise, malware does not discriminate; businesses of any size are susceptible and need to take preventive measures seriously.

What Forms of Malware Have Targeted Businesses This Year

Travelex was targeted by hackers on New Year’s Eve of 2019. These cyber predators were able to take down their websites across 30 countries and cause epic chaos for foreign exchange transactions worldwide throughout the month of January. The ransom was said to be $6,000,000 dollars.

Richmond County Schools in Michigan had to postpone opening after their holiday break when hackers demanded $10,000 dollars in Bitcoin to restore access to their school system servers.

A medical practice in San Diego, California, reported that they received ransom demands from a cybercriminal threatening to release personal patient information unless the ransom was paid within a certain amount of time.

Tillamook County in Oregon was targeted by cybercriminals resulted in the county’s IT infrastructure being taken down despite early thoughts that it was just a technical issue.  Later, they were able to confirm that it was caused by a ransomware attack.

It has been predicted that ransomware attacks will continue to grow year after year after year.  From 2015 to 2021, it is expected that ransomware damages will grow to over $20 billion dollars.  There are many forms of this malicious software out in the wild, but their anatomies are all somewhat similar as to what they do.

Ransomware is a form of malware that systematically encrypts the files on your computer.  Once files are encrypted, you can no longer access them without a passkey.  After the malware has encrypted your data, it will often times generate a note either on your desktop or change your desktop background displaying instructions as to how much to pay in order to regain access to your files. It will also tell you as to where to send your money.  This will often lead you through buying and sending funds in a form of crypto currency, like Bitcoin, for example.

What Steps Can Be Taken to Avoid These Attacks

When you are targeted by malware, like ransomware, it’s always best to have a backup ready to restore your data in case it is lost.  Once ransomware gets onto your computer and encrypts your data, there is no way to get it back unless you either restore a previous version from a backup, or pay the ransom and hope the cybercriminals who caused this give you the key to get your data back.

Antivirus software can help prevent most malware and spyware from infecting your computer, but it’s not enough to stop ransomware from infecting your computer.  To help prevent ransomware from infecting the computers on your network, you should block the Tor (The Onion Router) Network, and command and control servers.  The Tor Network’s goal is to conceal its users’ identities and online activity from surveillance and traffic analysis by separating identification and routing. The next step in preventing ransomware is to educate yourself and your employees about ransomware, phishing scams, and generally about how to be safe online.

Educating yourself and staff as to what suspicious email might look like as well as how to identify a suspicious link (hovering over it with your mouse cursor before clicking on it to see where it might be going) can help prevent ransomware infections.  Natural Networks can help you and your office learn how to identify potential vulnerabilities where ransomware can affect your business.  They can also help you block things, like the Tor Network.

Malware and other viruses can come from almost anywhere online.  A spam email could contain an infected image or link, an advertisement on a website may be infected with malicious software, and online downloads, such as torrent files, could be infected with ransomware as well.  It’s important that you are aware of the dangers and avoid clicking items that could possibly infect your computer without you ever realizing it.

Natural Networks is a managed IT services company with trained experts who have dealt with hundreds of forms of malware and ransomware.  We can help you in understanding the risks and assess what you need to do so that you can stay protected.  If you want to learn more, give us a call today!