How to Save Your Tech (and Money) from Ransomware

In the world of cybersecurity and business technology, ransomware remains a big headline.

Huge organizations have paid dearly for failing to prepare their defenses. With years since CryptoLocker—the big name in modern ransomware back in 2013—there are few excuses and less pity for ransomware victims, especially in business.

There are ways to stay safe and plan for recovery after ransomware without paying the ransom. Here are a few ransomware details to prepare you for a more secure tomorrow.

What Is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a class of malicious software (malware) that infects a system, encrypts files, and charges a fee (the ransom) to decrypt the files.

Encryption—scrambling information in a way that can’t be read easily without a key—is used across the tech world for security purposes. If you lose your encryption key, you can’t unlock the files.

While the viruses used to infect computers and the intent behind the attack are malicious, the encryption itself is legitimate and the result of some of the greatest research in modern technology.

The bad news is that’s being used against you.

Ransomware Protection Software

Ransomware Protection Software

To protect yourself against being infected by ransomware, you need a system that can detect modern threats. Anti-virus systems are helpful, but consider getting a suite designed with ransomware threats in mind.

Most anti-virus systems work by checking against virus definitions, which are catalogs of known threats. The most advanced systems will search for patterns that are similar to those definitions rather than literal matches.

There are multiple scanning techniques and different ways to detect, stop, and report against ransomware. To learn more about ransomware defenses, ask the support team for your protection of choice.

Proper Backup Planning

There is no such thing as a perfect defense. People who invest in every new product while assuming they’re finally protected from every event forever are doomed to become victims of a brilliant new idea.

Build a better mousetrap, and the mice will get smarter. However, you can protect yourself by making the attacks irrelevant.

Ransomware depends on making you desperate enough to pay for your own files. By using backups, the only thing you lose is the time it takes to restore your data again.

Backups are available in the form of online storage, on-site backup hard drives or solid-state drives (SSDs), magnetic tape drives, and many other media. You will need the same amount of storage as your current data size, but preferably more.

After a ransomware attack, a cybersecurity team can move your infected data to quarantine, then move the backups into place. This can be done by either turning backup systems into your new main systems, or copying everything to brand new storage.

Be sure to allow cybersecurity professionals to plan the backups and migration. Backup systems that are connected to your main business at all times can be infected, and connecting a backup to an infected computer can infect your backup.

Air-Gap Systems and Offsite Systems

To further enhance backup security—or to keep your most vital files safe—you need an air-gap system.

Air-gap systems are simply systems with no connection to the internet or computers with internet access. If they’re not connected to the internet, they can’t be infected by ransomware that simply slides into your network.

The only way that air-gap systems can be infected is if someone connects an infected system. This could be an infected USB flash drive, a replaced storage drive, or plugging the computer into the internet.

There are best practices for accessing air-gap systems. If you ever decide to use air-gap systems for your own purposes, a cybersecurity team needs to give you the tools to scan your outside drives and connections.

While this gets into the higher reaches of espionage, the best way to infect an air-gap system is to infect the personal property of leadership or someone with known access. A silent virus that attacks nothing else until further instructed can be devastating.

There are many scenarios to consider, but it’s best to allow cybersecurity experts to handle the planning and provide debriefing. Contact a ransomware protection professional to discuss best practices in modern tech security.