Number of Manitoba Ransomware Victims Increasing
For those of you that still think that ransomware, viruses, or malware doesn’t happen here, or that your business is too small or insignificant to warrant CyberCriminals’ attention…I’ve got news for you! The number of Manitoba businesses being hit with ransomare, malware, viruses, spyware, and just about anything else that CyberCriminals can dream up, has exploded in recent weeks. AND the methods that CyberCriminals are using to trick computer users into opening scam emails, infected files and/or attachments, or providing personal/financial information are getting more and more advanced.
What Is Ransomware?
Ransomware is a serious security threat that basically kidnaps your data. It limits access to files and/or system functions, sometimes even renders systems completely useless. They then force their victims to pay ransom to regain access to their files and/or systems.
How to Protect Yourself & Your Business:
- Admit You’re a Possible Target: The #1 step to stepping up your defenses, is to admit that your business could be a target. If you are still in denial about this, you’ve probably already stopped reading, and there is nothing more I can do to help you.
- EDUCATION. EDUCATION. EDUCATION. The #2 key to avoid becoming a victim is, you guessed it…education. Most new scams are being spread by social engineering and phishing scams, which are designed to trick people into thinking the emails are legit, and into opening the emails, and links or attachments. The links and/or attachments then infect the workstation, and usually quickly spread through the network to other workstations. Educate yourself and your employees about the dangers out there, and what to look for! This means anyone in your business that even looks at a computer should be informed what scams are currently out there, what to look for, and how to avoid them.
- Know How to Recognize a Scam Email: Read our ‘Red Flag Emails‘ for clues on what to look for in suspect emails. The general rule of thumb is: If it looks suspect, and you can’t confirm that it’s the real deal…DELETE IT.
- Install Updates: In spite of knowing the importance of installing software/hardware updates, a lot of people either put them off or skip them all together. Either the re-boot that your computer needs after installing the updates is ‘inconvenient’, or there are always ‘glitches’ after installing updates, etc etc. We’ve heard all the excuses. The bottom line: Is a 3 minute inconvenience to re-boot your computer, or putting up with potential glitches, or any other potential ‘inconveniences’ worth plugging any security holes in your computer system. I say yes, but that’s just me…
- Keep Hardware and Software Up-to-Date: Outdated hardware and software is often no longer supported by the manufacturer. You’re thinking, “So what? I don’t need their support!”. This is a frequent misconception. Periodically, a manufacturer decides that it will no longer “support” older software and/or hardware, in favor of concentrating on newer, better releases. When a manufacturer no longer supports a piece of hardware/software, this means that they are no longer releasing the updates to plug known security holes. This means HUGE security risk for your company! This could also mean litigation, if you handle client information, payment information, etc.
- Do Not Click Links Within Emails: If you receive an email that has a link to a website and/or webpage on it, especially if the link does not match the tone of the email, or if it is to something that this person (if you know them) would normally send you — DO NOT CLICK! A good trick: hover the mouse over the link (Do NOT Click!!). If the ‘box’ that appears does not match what the link states — it’s a fake and will cause you & your business some trouble if you click on it.
- Do Not Call Companies From Phone Numbers in Emails: If you receive an email asking you to contact ‘Tech Support’ (or anything else for that matter!), get the phone number to call directly from their website. Lots of scams involve fake phone numbers directing you to a legit-sounding department, then proceed to ask for personal information, credit card information, log in info, etc.
- Spam Filter: Tens of trillions of spam email is sent every year, to inboxes across the globe. A spam filter stops 95% of spam emails from ever reaching your employees’ inboxes in the 1st place…for less than a cup of coffee.. Because all it takes is one careless click, and your business could be compromised.
- Backup, Backup, Backup. If everyone had reliable backups, ransomware wouldn’t even be an issue. If you have a reliable backup, you don’t have to pay the hundreds or thousands of dollars in ransomware (and put an even bigger target on your business, because CyberCriminals now know that don’t have backups!) to get your own files back. Instead, your files can be retrieved from your last backup, and you’re up and running!
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