Things you can do to avoid a ransom attack

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Last week, another wave of ransomware attacks affected quite a number of local businesses and organisations.

The biggest casualty of the latest attacks was a local university. All their emails and student records on their servers were encrypted and became inaccessible to the campus staff.

The initiator of the attack demanded payment in the form of bitcoins which are untraceable. Regrettably, with Ransomware once your files are infected there is not much you can do apart from paying the ransom. This obviously is not the best approach.

Businesses and organisations should therefore put in place appropriate steps and layers of security to avoid a breach caused by ransomware and other attacks.

Below are some of the ways you can implement to make the attack harder to implement and reduce the impact.

1. Use a reputable security suite for your Internet security

As we spend more time online, on social media or browsing the web, we are exposing and increasing our chances of being targeted by cyber criminals.

While avoiding going online is not an option, we certainly need to take the necessary precautions. Using an Internet security package which detects and filters threats highly is recommended. This will provide a strong layer which will increase up your online security.

There are quite a number of packages available and ZOL recommends ESET. ESET uses the latest technology to detect and neutralise all types of digital threats, including viruses, ransomware, rootkits, worms and spyware.

It also protects against techniques that seek to evade detection, and blocks targeted attacks and exploits.

At the same time, its Anti-Phishing feature protects you from illegitimate websites that try to access your sensitive information, such as usernames and passwords. ESET can be bought by walking in any ZOL office around the country or through the ZOL website.

2. Have firewall (For institutions and businesses)

Not too different from internet security suites like ESET, a business or an organisation can also install a Firewall as a way of shoring up their security.

A Firewall makes it a lot harder for cyber criminals to initiate ransomware attacks against your business as firewalls are designed to prevent unauthorised access to and from a private network. Foiling the virus attack before it materialises can save you a lot of money and assure you peace of mind.

3. Robust back up strategy

One of the most important defences against ransomware is to have a robust backup strategy in place that includes off-site storage.

There are a tonne of options available, from backing up to cloud providers to local storage devices or even network attached drives. ZOL recommends Crash Plan for Africa which continuously and automatically backs up every version of every file on every device forever.

This is different to the usual cloud based back up systems (like Google Drive, iCloud, One-drive etc.) which just save the latest file.

After compressing and encrypting the data, Crash Plan gives the organisation to up the data — either in their cloud or at your site.

4. Exercise caution on the Internet

The advances in technology and the proliferation of websites mean that there a lot more places to go to online, things to do and as well a lot of freebies which are potentially unsafe.

Ordinarily, people are drawn into a malware attack when they visit “unsafe places” such as Torrent sites, click unsolicited ads and download unverified and pirate software. Torrents, unsafe games and unsolicited ads are usually a haven for malware including ransomware. For this reason, extreme caution should be undertaken when browsing online.

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