Ransomware – Cryto-Viruses
As you have probably heard in the news recently, there have been several instances across the global of crypto-viruses affecting tens-of-thousands of machines worldwide. What’s scary about these crypto-viruses is that they execute without anti-virus software detection and they will encrypt all of your personal data (Pictures, Documents, Spreadsheets, etc.) on your hard drive. If you have any external drives connected or if you have any network shared drives connected, the virus will often encrypt the data in those locations as well.
Once the data is encrypted, it is impossible to decrypt unless you pay a ransom to the person (or organization) that created the virus. Of course, paying the ransom doesn’t guarantee that they will provide you with the key to unlock your data. Chances are, the data is gone.
A new variant of the crypto-viruses recently release is called ‘Petya’. What is especially concerning about this crypto-virus variant is that it also encrypts a portion of your hard drive that Windows looks at in order to boot up! So if this virus gets executed on your system, your computer won’t even boot up normally AND your data will be encrypted. As you can imagine, this has created an absolute nightmare for IT professionals, businesses and end-users worldwide.
So the question becomes, how do I protect myself and my business from getting these types of viruses? Well, it’s fairly simple and the steps are outlined below:
- Windows Updates: Ensure that ALL workstations AND servers are up-to-date with the latest version of Windows updates. Many of these viruses take advantage of holes in Windows that Microsoft has recently patched. By having your systems up-to-date, will ensure a less-likely possibility of being infected by one of these bugs. Having an up-to-date system also ensures that no other bugs can affect you either.
Cross Island Computers can ensure that all of your systems are up-to-date with our advanced management software.
- Back up: This should go without saying, but ensuring that you have a proper back-up in place for all workstations and servers is absolutely crucial. This isn’t only to help in the event you get one of these bugs, but also in the event of a hardware failure or some other disaster. It is absolutely imperative that you have local and off-site backup.
Cross island Computer can assist you with ensuring you have the correct backup systems in place.
- Anti-virus/anti-malware: This is another one that should go without saying. You need to ensure that you have at minimum, the Microsoft anti-virus installed and enabled on your PC. There are many stronger antivirus applications out there as well that will also suffice. Having anti-malware software is also an absolute must as anti-malware software will protect against bugs that the antivirus software may not detect.
Cross Island Computers can ensure that you have proper antivirus and anti-malware installed across all of your systems. Our advanced management package will install these applications and ensure they are up-to-date and running properly.
- Remaining Vigilant: This is where 90% of the problems occur and can easily be stopped. By ensuring that you are NOT download or opening attachments or programs from emails or the internet that you are unsure of, will stop 90% of these attacks. The majority of these bugs are spread via email attachments that hide themselves as Adobe PDF’s. They typically appear as an invoice, or a document that comes from FedEx or UPS. If you are unsure of the sender or the attachment simply DO NOT OPEN IT! Simply delete the email/attachment in question and move on. If you are browsing the web and receive a pop-up about a virus, close the browser and be sure to run an antivirus and anti-malware scan to confirm nothing was installed on your machine.
Cross Island Computers can assist in analyzing emails and attachments to determine if they are in fact legitimate, or if they are possibly deadly. We can also help in user training to spot emails that may be fraudulent.
While these bugs are certainly quite scary, by following the above steps and contacting Cross Island Computers, will ensure that you are properly protected and your business will continue to operate in the event a bug like this gets installed. Please contact us today for more information!by