For Immediate IT Support 613-288-5805 or email us

Protecting Your Company from Ransomware

Most companies rely heavily on computer operating systems and the internet, so losing access to files and programs can be devastating. Cybersecurity is more complex today than ever before. The number of malware or computer virus incidents increases daily, and one of the worst types is ransomware.  The COVID pandemic work at home trend in 2020 caused a dramatic increase in Canadian cyberattacks, with 86% of the country’s companies being affected. The American FBI anticipates about 2 billion dollars in damages to companies in the United States this year due to ransomware. Individuals or companies who fall victim to it must pay money to the perpetrator to undo the damage or lose time and money while removing the malware and accessing backups. 

Criminal organizations that hold data for ransom or threaten to expose personal data can be anywhere globally. Still, many of the bigger operations exist in Russia and other former Soviet republics. It’s not just small-time hackers anymore because anyone with larceny in mind can purchase ransomware kits for about $40 or $50.

Like all malware, the trouble often starts when someone downloads a file from an email, clicks on an ad, or visits an unknown website embedded with malware. It’s often not apparent immediately that malware has been downloaded, but the attacking entity will soon contact you with a ransom demand. Ransomware attacks damage companies by interrupting operations and costing ransom money. Ottawa IT companies can help prevent ransomware or minimize its damage.

What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is one type of malware or malicious software that encrypts the victims’ files to prevent a person or company from accessing data files, operating systems, and networks. Instead of locking up a computer, sometimes the bad actor threatens to reveal personal or sensitive information to the public. In either case, the victim must pay ransom to regain access to their computers or prevent the threatened exposure. It’s extortion for the digital age or cystoviral extortion.  Because the funds are paid digitally with Bitcoin, Paysafecard, or other cryptocurrencies, tracing the money after the fact is difficult. Once the money is given to the attackers, they provide a key to the attacked company or person f so files can be decrypted. Top-level Ottawa tech support experts may be able to reverse some of the simpler ransomware; the best plan includes preventing unsecured downloads and backing up everything often.

[Tracing the Paid Ransom is Difficult Because It’s Paid in Cryptocurrency]

How to Prevent and Survive Ransomware

Ottawa IT companies and departments should take a multi-pronged approach to preventing and surviving ransomware. Prevention should include responsible computer and internet use and effective anti-virus or anti-malware solutions.  Survival starts with having a ransomware recovery plan, backing up everything often, and securing the backups completely.

Responsible Computer Users– Malware attackers get trickier all the time, and it may not be possible to avoid an attack completely. Still, all company employees should be encouraged to be conscientious about using company computers safely.  Employees should never download files from people they don’t know or click on pop-up ads because they look interesting.  Educating everyone in the organization about staying safe and regularly reminding them not to forget the dangers can go far towards preventing an attack. Some IT support companies in Ottawa offer employee training on cybersecurity.

Anti-virus and Anti-malware Solutions– Hire Ottawa IT professionals to install the most advanced and effective prevention solutions. Ottawa Tech Support professionals keep apprised of the latest tricks and types of threats and the best ways to prevent them. They will know what prevention and recovery solutions will work best for you.  If you decide to install and handle solutions yourself, do some research first. PC magazine regularly reviews malware protection and removal software.  Anti-virus and anti-malware detect and prevent malware. Once installed, make sure they are set to update and do regular scans automatically.

Secured Backup- If you are a victim of ransomware and your systems and files are locked up, having complete, secure backups can make all the difference in the world. The more often and completely you back up your operating systems and files, the easier it will be for you or your Ottawa tech support company to get you up and running again. Secure your backups. In other words, store them elsewhere. Too often, companies get a false sense of security because they regularly back up their records.  If they are connected to the same computers and networks as everything else, they may lose access to them. There are cloud-based security sites managers and business owners can use to optimize their off-site data storage. You can also create physical copies of your data and store it in a secure place such as a safe or a storage container.

[Keeping Backup Files Secure Means Keeping Them Offsite]

Make a Recovery Plan– Plan for the worst.Assume that your company will fall victim to an attack at some point and set up a written plan to get back on track.  Keep the recovery steps secure and know who will handle what part of the recovery. Set up a communications plan to include who in the company should know what facts about the attack. Figure out workarounds where possible while you fix the problems. Make sure you know who you will call to clear your systems and reload your files. Have removal software in place or an Ottawa IT support company on call. The sooner you take steps to remove the malware and reload your system and files, the sooner your company will be running again and the less money the company will lose.

Some of the biggest cyberattacks of 2021 have been on major commercial companies and government agencies so that any company can be a target.  Companies victimized in early 2021 included:

  • T-Mobile
  • Kroger Grocery Stores
  • California Department of Motor Vehicles
  • Microsoft
  • Colonial Pipeline
  • JBS Foods
  • California State Office of Controller
  • Facebook

If Facebook and Microsoft can be victims, all companies should expect problems with cyber security and ransomware. They should take steps to prevent it happening but be prepared to recover as quickly as possible if it does.