Ransomware is undeniably a growing threat to businesses and home users alike. Specifically if you store lots of data at home without backup, you are at risk of loosing lots of data or having to pay criminals hundreds or thousands to decrypt your computer.
Ransomware can arrive in the form of an e-mail or be downloaded from a website. E-mails may appear to come from a friend or business you already deal with, whilst websites are not just limited to those more shady sites, adverts or “click bait” may take you to what looks like a legitimate site or a legitimate site may have been infiltrated. I recently visited the European Youngnuo Flash manufacturers website and ended up being passed to a less than savory porn site.
We have become complacent about Antivirus protection, by day i work as an IT professional and we have seen a significant increase in cyber attack and ransomeware over the past few months. This weekend another high profile organisation that probably spends millions on IT security became the latest victim – Article here
A significant increase in zero day threats means that our once effective Antivrius programs are becoming similar to antibiotics in their diminished effectiveness. Whilst there are some tips to reduce the risk of ransomware, mostly involving a little bit of thought and the ethos of “DON’T CLICK” unless absolutely necessary, ultimately we should all prepare for the worst and that may mean completely wiping your Cryptolocked machine and starting again. In which case as a lowest common denominator in terms of protection, BACKUP, BACKUP, BACKUP
When many of you think about backup, you probably think of a USB stick or portable hard drive, this may be partially effective, but aside from Ransomware, what would happen if your property burned down? Backup Backup Backup is a concept which includes off-site backup. How many of you automatically backup, let alone think about automatically backing up to the cloud?
I wrote a previous article about the Synology Disk Station (here), this is a network device that sits on your home network, you can either copy files from your local machine, or work from a network share. The great thing about the Synology for photographers is the ability to automatically sync files to the cloud. You could choose your Google Drive, Microsoft One Drive, but i subscribe to Amazon Prime – £69a year not only gets me digital TV content and music, but there is also UNLIMITED photo storage that includes RAW files. I have my whole home network set to automatically push files to the cloud for peace of mind. A great side effect of this is that i can access all my files and content from anywhere in the world by accessing my Amazon cloud drive. This could probably be achieved using other manufacturers, but i havent seen anyone offer a more effective and easy to setup way than Synology as yet.
So back to protecting yourself from getting ransomware in the first place – here are some tips…
- don’t assume that an e-mail is safe just because your Antivirus hasn’t detected anything
- don’t assume that a mail from someone you know or a company is safe, they are probably Spoofing a supplier or friend – exactly the person you think will be safe
- don’t open attachments unnecessarily – if you wern’t expecting an e-mail even if its from someone you know, stop and think first
- Treat even more suspiciously if the attachment requires macro’s to run (hopefully you already have macros DISABLED by default)
- Treat every e-mail as a threat (even if its from your Great Aunt Doris) and get in the mind set to challenge everything you receive
- Backup, Backup, Backup – if you do get infected, chances are your hard drive will be encrypted by the criminals and you wont see you pictures, tax returns, etc etc again… restore from backup will be your only option
- If you do think about paying them… DONT… you will be marked as an easy target
If you dont know how to disable macros – there are some helpful articles on Microsoft, Windows 10 is here
Hopefully none of you will need this!!!