A lot of companies are taking notice of ransomware these days, and it’s a very important consideration. Several blackmail hackers have held companies for ransom with a variety of methods.  However, prevention is the better way of dealing with ransomware – before it becomes an issue!  The key is to educate your employees and ensure that you have all the safeguards in place.

I especially like this quote from an article I recently read:

 SHIELDS UP

People should not have to make the choice to pay a ransom to save their data. Antivirus programs can only do so much, as email phishing schemes become more sophisticated. The biggest chink in our defense is what security officials call “social engineering”: that is, people. We will never be able to prevent every employee in our network environment from clicking on suspicious links in emails. Malware is like a vampire: It has to be invited in. Given enough time, someone in our organization will make this mistake. It is human to do so; it can’t be avoided.

In my library, our IT guys have put safeguards in place so that we cannot install the simplest Java upgrade without their password. Annoying, yes. But that may be what saves our network from the employee question, “Should I click on this?”

On the other hand, there is some ransomware that can be caught or downloaded by clicking on advertising that leads to pages that execute exploits for vulnerabilities in outdated browser plug-ins such as Java, Silverlight, or Flash Player. It is wise to keep these adjuvant programs up-to-date, even if we have to ask for a password to do so.

In general, computer users should make sure that all their software, particularly their antivirus software, is up-to-date. We should all continue to click carefully and avoid opening links in email from people we don’t know or companies that we aren’t doing business with.

Turn on the pop-up blocker in your web browser.

Finally, we need to make sure to do that most difficult of tasks: Back up important files on a drive not connected to our computer all the time. Alternatively, we can back up into a cloud storage service that keeps an archive or a history of the versions of our files, such as Microsoft OneDrive (one drive.live.com).

These are all just common-sense suggestions for effective PC health on the internet. While often running counter to our everyday habits, if we can integrate these steps into our computer use, we will be able to keep the bad guys out while letting the right data in.

 

McDermott, Irene E. “Ransomware: tales from the cryptolocker.” Online Searcher May-June 2015: 35+.