CryptoLocker Ransomware demands $300 to decrypt your files

An example of ransomware.

Steve Ciniello, Marketing Intern

Even if your business has the most sophisticated anti-virus software, you may be susceptible to malware infection. Malware is an umbrella term used to describe different forms of hostile or intrusive software which include viruses, worms, Trojan horses, ransomware, spyware and many other malicious programs. Malware is always being developed in an attempt for criminals to gain access to your computers or network for financial gain, or to simply cause harm to your organization.  The most common forms of malware that will directly affect your business are viruses, spyware and ransomware. We’ve put together a brief overview of the common malware types, what you can do to avoid them and what happens if a computer in your network is affected.

The most well-known form of malware is a virus, which is a harmful program designed to infect legitimate software programs and corrupt or delete data from your computer. The best way to avoid a virus is by only downloading programs from familiar and trusted websites and sources. Most viruses can be stopped before they start by ensuring that your computer has the most current updates and antivirus software, as well as ensuring you are up to date on the latest threats. If you think your computer has been infected by a virus and are able to access your anti-virus software, run a virus scan and then quarantine and delete any infected items. If your computer no longer has access to the internet or your anti-virus, you can use another computer to install Windows Defender Offline onto a USB and then install it onto the infected computer. If your company has a managed service provider, you should contact them right away if you believe your computer has been infected and they will take care of the threat immediately.

Spyware is a software that allows a user to monitor your computer’s activities and transmit data covertly to their own device. The software is sometimes used for advertising purposes, collecting personal information or changing the configuration of your computer. Computers are usually infected by spyware through the download of legitimate programs or files such as a music or video sharing programs. To avoid spyware, ensure that you read all disclosures, licensing agreements and privacy statements when installing something on your computer to avoid the unwanted inclusion of spyware. If you have reason to believe that your computer has spyware, run a virus scan and contact your IT department or managed service provider.

Ransomware is basically a tool for modern day pirates. Once your computer is infected with ransomware you will not have access to any files or programs. There are a variety of different versions but, generally, it will encrypt your files and limit the use of your computer. The program will then demand that you pay money to have your files released, otherwise, they will destroy all of your data. There is no guarantee that by paying the fine or doing what the ransomware tells you to do, that you will regain access to your computer and files. Once again, to avoid being infected you should have an up-to-date anti-virus software and only download programs and files from trusted sites. If you do become infected with ransomware, attempt to remove it via anti-virus and contact your IT department immediately.

A common theme among avoiding all types of malware is that you maintain a solid security infrastructure by always keeping your computer software up-to-date and ensuring your anti-virus is updated regularly. It’s also important to train your employees on how to recognize and prevent possible threats to reduce infection and to mitigate damage if your computer does become infected.

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