What is Ransomware?

The term has appeared a great deal in the news of late,  but what is ransomware and should you be worried?  Ransomware is a type of malware / virus which encrypts your data in order to block access unless a ransom is paid.  Having progressed from the ‘scatter gun’ approach of targeting anyone, the attackers are now focused on infecting companies.  The aim being to encrypt all the data across all servers.

Normally, these attacks can be traced to a single email which contained a malicious link or attachment which landed in the inbox of an employee.  Once clicked, the whole network can be encrypted in a matter of hours.

Are you at risk?  Everyone is at risk

Targeted Attacks

More recently attackers have realised that the greatest profits are to be gained by infecting organisations with both deep pockets and good cyber insurance policies.  Millions of dollars has been paid out in recent months to hackers from organisations who decided that paying the attackers was either their only option, or the quickest way to get their data back.

As reported by the BBC,  a number of attacks have targets US cities – two in Florida being targeted in the space of a week, generating the hackers over £1m – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-48770128 followed by attacks in TexasBaltimore, Albany and Laredo.


Of course the best mitigation is not to get infected in the first place, however having regular backups which are held off site provides the fastest way to recover from an attack with minimal data loss and downtime.  Westcom would recommend the Microsoft Azure service which backs up data to the cloud and thus out of reach of attackers.

Getting high quality email scanning in place to help prevent infected emails reaching staff in the first place is a great place to start.  But staff also need to be trained in terms of what to look out for and how to report suspicious emails.  Westcom can provide such training, but we also recommend services such as USECURE as a platform to help inform your staff on the threats.

Don’t wait until after you have been infected to test your backups are performed as expected, Westcom can audit backup jobs to make sure they remain fit for purpose.



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