This is a friendly message from Chris at Bigsky Computer Solutions. I’m writing to let you know about a growing malware threat trend, ransomware. This message includes an overview of ransomware, advice on being prepared and some helpful resources.

What is ransomware?

There are many variants of ransomware, but they all fundamentally do the same thing. Once it infects your computer it will search for your files and encrypt them so you don’t have access. The ransomware will even search for and encrypt any files you have access to on the network, including a server. The group that created the ransomware will then demand you pay them in order to get access back to the files.

How serious is this threat?

We are reading about new ransomware attacks almost every day in the headlines from hospitals, cities, police departments and businesses of any size.

The real damage does not actually come from the cost of the ransom payment, however, but the downtime it causes to your staff and company. Your files could be locked and inaccessible for several days… unless your company has put a continuity plan in place (more on that below).

Even those who pay the ransom to get the files back are highly advised to quarantine the infected computers and possibly even wipe them to be certain they are clean again. This causes even more downtime on top of everything else.

Some antivirus software may claim to protect you from ransomware, but from our findings they don’t actually work and many have admitted to this. Ransomware may even slide through email filtering services and firewalls. This is what makes ransomware so difficult to prevent. Even the FBI has stated “The ransomware is that good... To be honest, we often advise people just to pay the ransom”.

How to protect your company

  • File backups. The first step toward securing your critical files is to protect them by backing them up. There are many different backup types and services. Our BCS Cloud Backup service will automatically backup your files to the cloud. If there are ever any errors or the backup doesn’t run we will receive an alert and address it. There are many companies that think they have backups, but later find their backups haven’t successfully ran in months! Don’t let this happen to you. Know your backups will be available when you need them.
  • Backup retention. Backing up your files is the first step, but without file retention, ransomware will simply encrypt your backups! The easiest way to explain file retention is that it is like going back in time and grabbing a previous backed up file from a previous date. For example, if your backups run nightly and Wednesday ransomware encrypts your files and then your backup runs, your backup files are now encrypted as well. But with retention you can restore your files from a known good state on Monday or Tuesday! Our cloud backup retention is set to 28 days or more giving you plenty of good restore days to choose from.
  • Educate your staff. A high percentage of malware and viruses can be prevented from infecting your computers and spreading if you know what to look for. Training and reminding your staff of common internet and email best practices will go a long way in keeping your company safe. We can work with you and create a company best practice that fits your company and staff.
  • Deploy a business continuity solution. Having a solution setup and working before a disaster affects your company is critical to your business being able to continue operations. The right continuity plan for your business depends on several factors, but we can help determine the best options for your company and get it implemented.

Learn more and get help

If you would like to be certain your company is prepared before a ransomware infection affects your company causing downtime, give Bigsky Computer Solutions a call and ask for Chris at 406-414-0532. We will be happy to assist!