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What You Think You Know About Ransomware Could Hurt You: Busting the Top Myths

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This article is published in collaboration with Scutify, where you can find real-time markets and stock commentary from Robert Marcin, Cody Willard and others. Download the Scutify iOS App, the Scutify Android App or visit Scutify.com.

On the surface, it's easy to think that you have ransomware figured out or that you won't become a victim. As the widespread WannaCry attack that crippled computers in 150 countries showed, though, treating ransomware like any other virus or malware isn't an effective strategy. Ignoring the threat isn't an option either, as a ransomware infection can take businesses offline, lead to data loss, and in the case of infected Internet of Things devices, potentially cause the destruction of life and property.

Although the immediate threat of WannaCry seems to have passed, it only marks the beginning of a new era of cybercrime. Unfortunately, there are also many misconceptions about ransomware, and what you think you know - or what you may have heard - could be putting your computer, network, and business at risk.

Myth #1: You Won't Lose Any Data to Ransomware

When ransomware hits, your data is encrypted until you either pay the ransom, or find a way to remove it and restore your files from backup. This gives some a false sense of security that it's "no big deal" to be attacked. In fact, some law enforcement agencies have even recommended that individuals who are affected by the malware simply pay the ransom to get their files back, since the time and energy it takes to remove the code and restore files is usually costlier than just paying the ransom.

This isn't always the case, though. For starters, there's always the risk that the hackers won't actually decrypt the files after you pay, or that the files have been corrupted during the process. Not to mention, unless you are 100 percent certain that your backup process has been working perfectly, you may lose data if you decide not to go with that route. In fact, depending on how often you run backups, it's possible to lose data created within a few minutes to 24 hours or more, as it hasn't been backed up yet.

It's also important to consider the reality that while your data was encrypted on your end, it's very possible that the hackers could be snooping around on theirs. A ransomware attack does constitute a data breach, meaning that even if you don't pay the ransom and get your data back, your business can take a hit financially and in terms of reputation. Bottom line? Ransomware must be taken seriously, and treated as any other threat to data.

Myth #2: Small Businesses Aren't at Risk

As with any other threat, small businesses and even individuals are at risk of ransomware attacks. In fact, it's possible that your small business could be a target of an attack specifically because it's smaller, and hackers assume that you don't have the protections in place to block the attack. No one is immune to ransomware, so take the threat seriously.

Myth #3: Firewalls and Antivirus Protection Will Stop Ransomware

In the case of the WannaCry attack, 98 percent of the infected machines were unpatched Windows machines. Microsoft issued a patch in March 2017 to close the vulnerability that hacker's exploited, but not all users installed the patch. In other words, even though the majority of ransomed computers had protections in place, the hackers found another way in - and firewalls didn't stop it.

The fact is, hackers have become more sophisticated, and have found ways around firewalls, such as looking for unpatched vulnerabilities. Therefore, most ransomware attacks don't come from web traffic, but rather from emails, unpatched or unsecure web applications, and poor security within network perimeters. Systems administrators, or business owners, must address these vulnerabilities, making sure that updates and patches are installed, security within the network perimeter is segmented and tight, and that antivirus software is up-to-date to prevent harmful emails from coming through.

Myth #4: Ransomware Is a Fad - It Will Go Away

Some people believe that with all the attention ransomware is getting right now, hackers will grow bored with it and find other ways of wreaking havoc. That's not true at all. Ransomware attacks are on the rise, with more than 4,000 taking place every day, because it's becoming easier to do. Not all attacks are as widespread or devastating as the WannaCry attack, but it's certainly possible that such an event could happen again. For that reason, you need to learn the truth about ransomware, and do everything you can to protect your company against it.


This article was written by Adam Monson for on .

This article published in collaboration with Scutify, the best app for traders and investors. Download the Scutify iOS App, the Scutify Android App or visit Scutify.com.

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