Ransomware: What you need to know

Ransomware is a type of malware that restricts the access to the computer system and demands that the user or the company pay a ransom to gain back control. There are different types of ransomware: some encrypt all the files on a system and some just lock the system so it’s unusable.

McAfee reports that the number of total ransomware in Q4 of 2015 rose to about 6 million, whereas in Q1 it was at 3 million. The reason for the increase is open-source ransomware code and ransomware-as-a-service make it simpler and more successful. Ransomware campaigns are popular because they are financially lucrative and there is little chance of arrest.

It’s not just big and powerful companies that are being targeted by ransomware either: it’s small businesses, schools, non-profits, individuals, and more. This local dentist’s office was just hit by a virus that held their computer files ransom. Darrell Morton said after an employee opened the infected email, a pop-up message told him he would have to pay up to retrieve all his files back. Luckily, Morton contacted is computer vendors immediately and they were able to retrieve all their files.  A lot of businesses are being targeted and the ransom can be anywhere from $50,000 to $200,000.

What to do if you get ransomware

The best way to handle ransomware is prevention. If you have a good backup system in place, that takes a backup of your files every few minutes, then you are able to turn back time and restore your system to a time that it was before it got infected. If you do what Morton did, and contact your computer vendor or IT services company, they are going to be more likely able to get rid of the ransomware. It is hard to completely clean your system of the ransomware though. If someone was out the day you got it and cleaned everything up, and they come in the next day and turn on their computer or open up the infection again, then your whole system is compromised once again. Sometimes, the only option to totally rid yourself and company of the ransomware is to unfortunately pay up. This is why it is so important to take preventative security measures so that you do not get hit with ransomware, especially as a small business where ransomware could do a lot of damage.