“Aren’t we paying you to keep our computer network protected from hacks and viruses?” We’ve been asked this question on a few occasions when one of our clients’ networks has been attacked and infected with a cryptovirus. It’s a fair question and one that deserves an explanation.
There are a few things about data breaches and attacks that you need to know and will help you understand what we, as your IT partner, can and cannot do to keep your systems safe from bad actors.
What is Ransomware?
Ransomware is a type of malware that prevents users from accessing their files by locking up their computer. Also called cryptovirus, Crypto Locker, crypto Trojan or crypto worm, ransomware can cause serious damage to both personal and business computers rendering them useless. A Distributed Denial of Service attack such as ransomware brings business operations to grinding halt until the system can be restored using our Backup and Disaster Recovery tools. Restoration can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 10 days or more depending on the size of your network and the level of damage. That’s time you and your staff will be unable to access critical business files and applications. And we don’t need to tell you that downtime is costly.
Emails with unknown attachments continue to be the most widely used door for criminals to get into your network. Although these attachments seem to be familiar file types, such as *.doc or *.pdf, they contain a double extension – a hidden executable file. So once that attachment is opened by one of your computer users, it creates a window and activates a downloader, which begins its attack.
This type of malware can also come from websites – even legitimate ones – that prompt you to download a plug-in or video player such as Adobe Flash. By the way, Flash is notorious for its vulnerability to cyber attacks, so as a rule of thumb, if a website is instructing you to download or update your version of Flash, it’s best to just move along. Most websites are moving away from Flash because of its reputation for being more trouble than it’s worth.
Once your computer is infected, you might not see anything wrong with your computer at first. It’s only when all of your files have been encrypted that a warning will pop up on your screen letting you know that your network is being held hostage. These warning messages also come with instructions on how you can pay, usually with cryptocurrency, to have your files restored and a countdown timer to let you know how long you have before all your files go bye bye.
Shouldn’t Anti-virus and Spam Filtering Software Prevent This?
Security software, like anti-virus and spam filtering, goes a long way in keeping the bad stuff out of your computer network. But you have to remember that cybercriminals are – for the most part – super smart and super sneaky, so sometimes security software might not catch what they’re throwing your way.
Also, and this is so important to know, Anti-virus software is not effective if you, or someone within your organization, open the proverbial door and let the criminal in. Think of having state-of-the-art security for your home, but leaving the front door wide open. That’s why phishing emails are so effective. The criminals know that eventually, some unsuspecting computer user is going to invite them in by clicking on something they shouldn’t.
What Can You Do to Protect Your Business?
First, know that we are locking down your network on our end with world-class security tools and software. Our Managed Security ensures that the perimeter of your network is protected with multiple layers including but certainly not limited to virus protection, a VPN, DNS protection, logging and reporting, malware scanning and application control. We apply software security patches and constantly monitor your system for advanced threats, often catching them before any real damage is done.
The other critical component of network security lies with you and your employees. You must be hyper-focused on email and internet safety. That means educating your staff on what to be on the lookout for and to avoid being click-happy. Good password hygiene will also add another layer of protection from crooks.
The good news is, we can help with educating your team. We offer Security Awareness Training for our clients. Contact your client account manager for more information… we would love to help! 205-987-8711