Recent reports, including in the media, tell us that new malware, called ‘Locky’, has not spared Belgian businesses. Locky is a new variant of ransomware, which – like the infamous CryptoLocker virus – locks up computer files and only releases them again after a ransom has been paid. Ransomware is not new, but it continues to pester companies more stubbornly than ever. What’s it all about and what can you do?
What is ransomware?
Ransomware, or a virus such as Locky or CryptoLocker locks up computer files and only releases them again – so they say – after payment of a ransom. The virus infects the user’s own PC, but can then also go on to lock the files on servers and other computers. Ransomware sneaks into systems disguised as an e-mail attachment such as .doc, .exe or .pdf. Its very structure makes it virtually impossible to crack the encryption without knowing the secret key. To solve the problem, the computer user is presented with a demand for payment before the files will be released.
How to protect your organisation against ransomware
Most ransomware infections are caused by the user’s own negligence. Up-to-date antivirus software, firewalls and spam filters all help to reduce the chance of these malicious files from attacking your network. Unfortunately, updates of antivirus software are often not available to address new variants of ransomware, which tend to evolve quickly.
What you can do in practical terms
Caution is recommended – and prevention is always better than cure. You should warn the computer users in your organisation about this type of virus, asking them to be particularly vigilant about opening e-mails with attachments. End-users should best avoid opening files from unknown senders or websites. In any event, visiting suspicious websites should be avoided.
Daily backups of PCs and servers can help to recover lost data after an incident, quickly and with minimal loss. If you are in doubt, you should disconnect the PC in question from the network immediately and contact your service desk or IT Service Provider. But, as we say, prevention is always better than cure.