Ransomeware attacks are growing in strength and severity each year. When a ransomware virus hits your business, it encrypts all your files locking them behind a password that only the ransomware’s creators know. Modern ransomware will try and shut off your anti-virus programs and will even try and encrypt any files and backups you might have on your company’s network. What does a ransomware attack look like in practice? Look no further than the city of Baltimore for a worse case scenario.

On May 7th, Baltimore city computers picked up a ransomware virus which jumped from computer to computer and city department to city department. The first indication of trouble came when the city’s email went down unexpectedly. As the virus locked down more and more computers, additional city systems such as payment gateways, water billing, and the city government’s internet connected phones went down one after another. Baltimore’s Information Technology department was all but powerless to quickly fix the compromised systems. Their only option was to take most of the city’s unaffected networks offline to prevent the ransomware from spreading.

Ten days later, with most of Baltimore’s government departments shutdown or doing what business they can without the use of their computer systems, there is still no end in sight. In one of his latest statements on the ransomware attack, Baltimore’s mayor noted that they hoped to have some government functions back to normal “within a matter of weeks” while some city departments might take months to restore normal. Imagine if your business wasn’t going to be able to function for weeks or months.

Fortunately, while large city governments are usually slow to react and take months or years to respond to new threats, you can make sure your business is well protected by taking a few relatively low cost steps:

  1. Make sure you have up-to-date anti-virus on all your computers. Some ransomware will try to disable your anti-virus, but by staying up-to-date, you increase the chances that a ransomware attack is stopped before it ever begins.
  2. Keep your computers and your applications updated. Ransomware, like most viruses, tends to prey on computers and servers running out-of-date software. Both Microsoft and Apple constantly release security updates, as do most serious software companies. Keeping up with security updates can sometimes be even more important than running a good anti-virus program.
  3. Most importantly, make sure that your business is keeping at least a week’s worth of off-site, offline backups. By copying your data to a safe location outside of your office space and by keeping those backups separate from your normal network, you greatly increase the chances that you can quickly restore your files even if your office does get hit by a ransomware attack. Off-site backups are also an excellent way to protect your company from physical disasters like fires, water leaks, or damage caused by storms.
  4. If you do get hit by ransomware, call a qualified internet technology company immediately. Some forms of ransomware are easier to recover from than others. Depending on which exact virus found your network, it can even be possible to roll back the attack if you act quickly enough.

If you have questions about ransomware attacks or protecting your business with an automated backup plan, ETV Software can help.