There’s a good reason why ransomware has been garnering headlines lately: the attacks have cost businesses millions of dollars and disrupted everything from oil and gas distributions to meat processing. It’s happened because the cyber crooks were able to take over their victim’s computer systems, seizing data and making it impossible for them to function unless they hand over a sizable ransom.
One tactic that perpetrators have been deploying is to infiltrate third-party services that businesses depend upon. The criminals embed viruses into the third-party’s code, which is then downloaded by other businesses unaware of the danger. Cyber criminals also exploit vulnerabilities in the code of software companies’ marquee products, such as Microsoft’s Exchange Server, which ultimately distributes their malicious code far and wide.
For businesses, the best defense is to turn to the professionals: a cyber security expert can assess your vulnerabilities and help you implement remedies. But even if you don’t have a business, keep in mind that individuals are also frequent targets of ransomware attacks and should be taking defensive measures.
One of the best tactics for all concerned is to back up your computer systems frequently. That way, if your system is breached and you can no longer access your data, all you have to do is reinstall the latest backup.
Also, make sure to update your software regularly. Software companies are keenly aware of the dangers posed by weaknesses in their code and will frequently send out patches and updates to close any vulnerabilities they find.
Lastly, remember that human error is what most often gives cyber crooks entrance into your computer systems, whether to steal data and log-in credentials or to plant malicious viruses. So avoid clicking on suspicious links, being careless about the sites you visit, or downloading suspect files.