Ransomware has proven to be phenomenally effective at producing a fortune in ransom payments for its nefarious authors. It’s been estimated that in late 2013, over a span of just three months, the infamous CryptoLocker virus raked in nearly $30 million in payments. The astonishing “success” of ransomware makes one thing certain: It’s only a matter of time before the next form of malicious ransomware strikes. There are steps you can take to prevent an attack, and a few ways to get your data back if your systems become infected. The first step is knowing what Ransomware is and the recent forms it’s taken to extract payments from its many victims.

Recent Forms of Ransomware

Ransomware in its various forms has been around since 1989, and it shows no signs of slowing down. The problem has gotten worse in recent years due to the popularity of mobile devices and anonymous payment methods, like Bitcoin, which make it easier for cybercriminals to cover their tracks and evade law enforcement. Here’s a brief list with details about the most infamous forms of ransomware over the last few years.

How to Prepare for a Ransomware Attack

It’s important to warn employees about clicking on suspicious attachments, but they may fail to adhere to the policy or simply be fooled by a well-targeted phishing attack. Additionally, while firewall protection and security software are crucial components in a ransomware-prevention strategy, they won’t guarantee protection. When prevention methods fail, the best way to regain access to your data is by having a backup plan in place.

This is where the frequency of your backups becomes a key component of your recovery strategy. The more frequently you back up, the more recent your recovery point can be. Having automatic, continuous backups also ensures data protection with minimal human intervention. Depending on the nature of your business, it may be worth the peace of mind and risk reduction to have more frequent, continuous backups.

5 Steps to Take if Your Systems Become Infected

If you have a comprehensive malware-prevention strategy in place and a backup plan is part of it, here are the 5 steps you should take if your systems become infected:

  1. As soon as you’re aware of an attack on your computer, file server or network, immediately shut down all file sharing activity.
  2. Use your antivirus software to determine where the infection happened. If you can’t determine where the infection originated using antivirus software, right click on an infected file to find out the last user or computer to make changes to the file. This will tell you where the infection originated.
  3. Assess the extent of the infection and the damage.
  4. Remove the virus by deleting all infected files. 5. Use your backup application or dashboard tool to recover clean versions of the infected files.

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