A recent cyber attack that made the news involved a Los Angeles hospital that hackers hit with ransomware. Ransomware is a special type of malware that blocks or limits people’s access to their own data, network or devices.
The Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center wound up paying hackers $17,000 to regain access to their data and restore functionality to their system. Although no patients died as a result of the hospital’s temporary lack of access to its electronic patient files, the attack still posed a danger to people’s well-being.
A number of major news websites have seen adverts hijacked by a malicious campaign that attempts to install “ransomware” on users computers, according to a warning from security researchers Malwarebytes.
Protecting against ransomware
Although there’s no safeguard that works 100% of the time, businesses and other organizations can still take important steps against these kinds of cyber attacks. Effective preventative measures include the following:
- Installing up-to-date anti-malware programs and firewalls on computing devices. In general, you want to rely on preventive measures that detect and block malicious intrusions.
- Upgrading to newer operating systems and other software. Older software generally doesn’t receive support, including critical security patches.
- Regularly performing backups on your data. Ideally, your information will get backed up and stored on a separate system or offline, better protecting it from ransomware.
- Training employees to check email and browse the Internet more safely. For example, they should remain cautious about downloading attachments or clicking on links embedded in emails; these are both common avenues for infecting a system with ransomware. Some websites or their ad content are also contaminated with malware.
Working with IT support professionals can better protect you against ransomware. Once the ransomware infects your system, you’ll have a much harder time recovering your data or regaining control of your network and devices; you may wind up having to pay cyber criminals tens of thousands of dollars.