Backup to Basics—Stay Ransomware-free for the Holidays

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If your business is like most, the holiday season is critical to hitting your annual sales and revenue goals. And that makes it the worst possible time to get hit by a ransomware attack, which can cripple your ability to do business.

But it doesn’t have to be that way if you’re properly prepared.

Consider what happened to San Francisco’s Muni transit system, and how it barely (figuratively) batted an eye when ransomware struck their systems. It happened on Friday, November 25th—Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year.

The hackers used a variant of the HDDCryptor malware to infect 900 computers used to operate the public transit system. They also took over Muni’s email and time-tracking payroll system. The cause of the attack? A year-old Java vulnerability that had gone unpatched. The criminals demanded $73,000 for the decryption key, but Muni didn’t pay a cent.

There was some disruption and inconvenience for Muni since they lost money by providing free rides to customers during the incident, but by Sunday everything was back to normal.

How did they do it? With a powerful, fast, up-to-date backup system. Once they located and eliminated the malware, they simply erased the encrypted data and restored it from their backup.

The Number One Way to Recover from a Ransomware Attack

Believe it or not, many organizations don’t have a backup solution in place, or rely on outdated, clunky, error-prone tape-based backup systems. This leaves them totally exposed to ransomware attacks. In turn, this target-rich environment has led to an explosion of ransomware-based cybercrime. According to the FBI, this malicious malware variant cost businesses $209 million in just the first three months of 2016.*

If you could keep ransomware from ever infecting your network in the first place, then you wouldn’t have to worry. But the simple fact is that it’s very challenging to achieve 100 percent protection. Outdated firewalls, poorly trained users, vulnerable applications and operating systems—all these things and more can leave you exposed to ransomware and other advanced malware.

If you think you only need a firewall and antivirus software—without also investing in a modern backup solution—you’re asking for trouble. The fact is, some firewalls don’t protect the total threat landscape. Cybercriminals have many threat vectors to choose from, and some firewalls aren’t up to the task of blocking the most sophisticated and aggressive of them.

In principle, a backup solution gives you the extra protection you need. Like Muni on Black Friday, backup lets you erase the affected files and restore clean versions.

In practice, though, it gets a little more complicated. Not all backup solutions are created equal—and not all backup solutions can get you back up and running as fast as you need to during a critical time for your business. 

*Download “Best Practices for Dealing With Phishing and Ransomware by Osterman Research here.

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