Ransomware - avoid an unwelcome gift this Christmas

Posted: 20-12-2016

'Tis the season of giving and receiving, but some companies are getting more than they bargained for

Every year during the Christmas period there are significant increases in the number of computer viruses and malware infecting PCs. People are often less cautious at this time of year, increasing the chances that they may click on malicious email links or open infected email attachments.

Ransomware is a particularly nasty strain of virus that is affecting a growing number of companies in the UK, including several MAM Software customers. It prevents or limits users from accessing their system, either by locking the system's screen or by locking the users' files unless a ransom is paid.

Prevention is key when it comes to IT security, and the following tips will help to limit the risk posed to your business:

  • Do not open a file attached to an email unless you can verify the authenticity of the sender
  • Do not follow a link in an email if you are not sure of the sender’s identity
  • Disable macros in Microsoft Office applications by default
  • Ensure that an up-to-date antivirus software package is installed on your system
  • Make sure that all software (operating systems included) is up to date
  • Segment the network, use separate file shares rather than a single one for all users
  • Develop a plan for notifying employees should there be a security breach
  • It is recommended that the server is not used for general web browsing
  • Back up your files regularly and keep a recent backup off-site

You can also increase protection by moving to a cloud-based solution, where your software and data are stored securely in a state-of-the-art data centre, and your data is backed up automatically at regular intervals.


What to do if you are affected

If you are affected by a computer virus, we advise that all affected PCs are turned off and disconnected from the network as soon as a problem is noticed. This will prevent the infection from spreading further.

We strongly recommended that the ransom should not be paid under any circumstances. The charge is likely to be hundreds, if not thousands of pounds, and according to experts one in five ransomware victims who pay the ransom never see their files returned.

In some cases, a decryption tool may be available for the particular ransomware infection, but many newer variants use a unique encryption key, which makes restoring the files impossible.

The best solution is to remove the infection, and then restore your data from your backup.

If you'd like to talk to someone about your backup processes, installing anti-virus software or moving to the cloud, please get in touch.

Have a safe Christmas and prosperous New Year!

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