You see a window pop up on your screen that says that your computer is inaccessible. It tells you that the only way to unlock your files is to send a payment in the form of a bank draft or a cryptocurrency. Wondering if it’s a joke, you hit various key combinations hoping to return your computer to normal, but to no avail. You learn that yours isn’t the only computer in your organization in this predicament.
It doesn’t take long for you to realize that your organization is the target of a ransomware attack. As the owner of the company, you’re under pressure to pay the ransom and resume operations. But this might not be the best idea.
What is ransomware?
You may have heard of the malicious software after seeing numerous ransomware news stories. So, what is ransomware exactly, is it a good idea to pay the ransom, and is ransomware removal an easy process? Let’s start with a ransomware definition:
Ransomware is a type of malware that hijacks the files on your computer and threatens to corrupt them unless you pay a ransom to its author, usually within a couple of days. Ransomware can target the files and folders on your local drives, attached drives, backup drives, and other computers on the same network.
So, why shouldn’t you pay the ransom?
It’s probably a bad idea to pay the ransom immediately after an attack unless instructed by law enforcement for the following reasons:
Even if you pay the ransom, there’s no guarantee. There have been many incidents where the authors of ransomware have simply taken the money and disappeared. Even the FBI doesn’t support paying a ransom in response to a ransomware attack: “…we’ve seen cases where organizations never got a decryption key after having paid the ransom.”
Unfortunately, paying the ransom only encourages many cybercriminals to launch more ransomware attacks. As long as it’s profitable for them, they’ll continue to employ ransomware as an extortion tool.
Makes You a Repeat Target
Cybercriminals want to work as little as possible while making as much money as possible. It’s fruitful for them to attack the same organizations that gave in to their demands.
Double-Encryption Ransomware Makes You Pay Twice
Some ransomware gangs can encrypt your data multiple times, forcing you to pay at least twice to unlock all your files and folders. Alternatively, they may use different strains to lock different segments of your storage drives and ask you to pay in expensive tranches.
How do I stop ransomware?
Prevention is the best cure against ransomware. Use the best endpoint protection and remediation technology with anti-malware detection for your organization. Additionally, backup your data on multiple channels regularly, use strong network defense measures and train your employees to spot ransomware threat vectors like phishing expeditions.
Of course, sometimes, you may feel like you have no choice but to pay attackers behind ransomware. Before you do, contact cybersecurity experts who may be able to recover your data with decryptors. After paying the ransom, take steps to minimize the chances of another ransomware strike against your computers.
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