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Ransomware: What is it and how it is spreading?

Imagine reaching your office after a long commute early one morning when you’ve got too much to do, only to turn on your computer and click on a link to see a message on your screen telling you that criminals are holding you and your business to ransom.

Fiction? Unfortunately, it’s not. Many businesses find themselves under attack from ‘ransomware’, so called because the criminals try to extort payment from you by denying you access to your computers. You won’t be able to access business or customer data or other information unless you pay them a ransom, often in hard-to-trace cryptocurrencies such as bitcoins or in Amazon or iTunes vouchers. And paying up doesn’t guarantee you’ll get your access restored.

Typically, ransomware is initiated when you click on a link, open attachment from the email or download a file from a website which triggers a message that your system has been locked or encrypted and that it can only be released by paying the amount demanded. Sometimes there are fake warnings, made to look as though they are from the police or authorities, claiming that you are involved in illegal activities and demanding a ransom. Some attackers threaten to publish all your data. What if they get hold of all your confidential client data and accounts?

Are they just trying to scare you? Well, they are trying to scare you into paying up and there may be a chance that you will be able to access your systems without paying, but there’s a very strong chance that you won’t be able to. You need to consider the potential for attacks very seriously as your whole business could be at stake.

How does ransomware get on your computer? Criminals use different methods, including sending malicious programs in emails or from web sites they hijack and infect. Just clicking on an attachment could trigger a ransomware attack.

Don’t panic though, as there are lots of things you can do to protect your business. Our video presentation on ransomware at gives a lot more detail on what to look out for and what precautions you can take.

Even if you are attacked, it could be possible to recover your data without paying a ransom, but it’s better to take action to prevent it from happening.



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