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How to Deal with a Ransomware Attack

Ransomware is a type of software that criminals can download onto your devices and encrypt them so you can't recover them, you can't use your own data and you can't easily get access to them once again. What do you do about it? How do you recover from it and how can you prevent it?

How to prevent a ransomware attack

How can ransomware take control of your devices?

ransomware has been around for a few years now and it increases in complexity all the time. Criminals use it to make money. Simple as that! Like all crimes, it's there to make a profit.

So how do they take control of your devices?

Well, some of the easiest ways that this happens are when we click on emails when we click on a hyperlink or we click on an attachment in an email that we weren't expecting. This downloads the software and it might be disguised as a Word document or a PDF or a ZIP file. And that can encrypt your phone, your laptop, your tablet, your servers, and the entire network that you're working on.

Criminals during COVID19 have been targeting hospitals and vaccine development labs with ransomware. Inhumane is stupid. They shouldn't, of all the times, not target hospitals and vaccine labs - it's now! But they think they can make money from it.

How to recover from a ransomware attack?

Back up your data Back up the most important stuff that you can do regularly. The things that keep you, your business, your personal life working - anything that you think is critical to you to keeping that functionality. Make sure you have a backup of it. Ideally, the backup should be offline, as well as online.

you have a cloud-based backup, as well as a separate hard drive that you store things on as well. Because the premise of ransomware is that you're going to try and pay to get access to your data once again. And the way that you don't have to do that is if you've backed it up. You can't be held to ransom for something that you have somewhere else. And you can just start again.

So, do that backup online with a cloud-based service and offline in a separate hard drive that isn't connected to the network or the WiFi all the time. That'll reduce your opportunities of not being able to recover after a ransomware attack. And if you did fall victim to it, you simply reset your device back to factory settings and you start again with the backup data that you already have. And this works across the business as well as working for us as individuals as well. So that's how we recover from it to prevent ourselves from falling victim to it.

How to prevent a ransomware attack?

Ideally, be careful with what you click on in emails. If that email doesn't look legitimate, if it feels weird, don't click on anything. Contact the person who sent it first. Not by replying to the email that you've received, but pick up the phone, old school, call them, make sure it was them who sent it.

And lastly, if you do find yourselves a victim of ransomware, check out Europol's "No more ransom" website and you can try and see if there's a decryption key to get rid of the ransomware that your device has been infected with. But above all, don't pay!

Don't pay criminals to try and recover your data! You can't trust them! It's an entirely anonymous transaction. If you have an anonymous e-mail from someone who isn't a real, real name behind it, and they're using Bitcoin or a cryptocurrency, there is no guarantee at all that they're going to give you the key to decrypt your data.

So, please, don't pay them! The worst case: you take a step back, and you start again from scratch. But that way, you help to keep yourself, your family, your loved ones, your business, your government, and your society safe.