Malware slows down your computer, shuts down networks, and spies on you, but the most dangerous type takes your files hostage and demands a payment for their release. This type of malware is known as ransomware, and it’s making millions off unwitting computer users.
What is ransomware?
Ransomware is a type of malware designed to locate and encrypt everything on your hard drive. If your computer is infected, the malware will display a ransom note declaring that you won’t be able to access your files unless you pay a specified amount in Bitcoin or other untraceable cryptocurrencies. To pressure victims into paying, cybercriminals threaten to release files to the public or increase the ransom if the payment is not made within the deadline.
One common method used to distribute ransomware is phishing, or fraudulent emails that trick users into clicking a link or downloading a file. Another way ransomware spreads is by exploiting vulnerabilities in shared networks. A famous example of this is the WannaCry ransomware that infected hundreds of thousands of computers by attacking a serious Windows bug.
What should you do?
Paying the ransom may seem like the best option, but when you’re dealing with cybercriminals, there’s no guarantee that you will get your files back or that you won’t be attacked again. To defend yourself, there are some strategies and tools you can use.
The first thing you should do is keep your operating systems and computer software up to date to reduce the vulnerabilities hackers can exploit. Antivirus software and firewalls must also be patched to detect the latest ransomware strains and prevent them from running in the first place.
Safe online habits are also vital. Since most ransomware is distributed through phishing scams, you should never open attachments and click on links in unsolicited emails. In fact, you and your employees must always be cautious when surfing the web -- seemingly innocuous free software may be deadly ransomware in disguise.
Next, you’ll want to store copies of your files somewhere other than your local computer. The reason most victims are willing to pay the ransom is because their one copy rests on the infected device. If you have multiple copies of your data -- one in an external hard drive and another in a cloud-based document management system (DMS) -- there’s nothing to worry about.
How DMS protects you from ransomware
Cloud-based DMS software like PaperSaveCloud stores digital copies of your files in an offsite data center managed by a team of document management and data security specialists. This means, if your local files get infected with ransomware, there are clean versions saved in the cloud that you can access using any internet-enabled device.
The connection between devices and the DMS server are also secured with advanced encryption and intrusion prevention systems, which makes it almost impossible for a ransomware infection to spread to your cloud data. Furthermore, these features help you meet the technical and security requirements of compliance initiatives like HIPAA and PCI-DSS, so if you’re working in a highly-regulated industry, cloud-based DMS software is the way to go.
Then, once your DMS is in place, back up your files regularly and routinely test your DMS solution to make sure your backups are retrievable in case of a ransomware attack.
Here at PaperSave, we use only the most cutting-edge security tools to keep your data safe from a wide variety of ransomware strains. We also offer installation, maintenance, and testing services, so you never have to sweat the technical stuff. If you want to learn more about our PaperSaveCloud solution, check out our infographic or sign up for a personalized demo today.