A Quick Guide to Ransomware and the Risks it Poses to Your Data

The amount of data out in the world today has dramatically increased. Even individuals today create a high volume of data that must be stored somewhere, and the place most people choose to store it is right on your computer. The challenge with storing everything on your PC is that leaves you vulnerable to a ransomware attack. This blog will briefly cover the basics of what a ransomware attack is, why it&’s something you want to avoid, and how you can protect against it.

Ransomware attacks are on the rise; cloud storage can help you avoid costly ransom payments to get your files back.

Ransomware Basics

Ransomware is a term used to describe a specific type of cybercrime. Hackers install malware on your computer that encrypts your files so you cannot access the files or any of the contents inside. The hackers contact you to let you know they have taken over your files, and demand a ransom payment in exchange for releasing the files back to you. If you don&’t meet their demands and pay the ransom, the hackers generally threaten to permanently delete your files.

How Ransomware Gets on Your Computer

Hackers can gain access to your computer to install malware that will infect your computer through several different methods. The most common are:

  • Phishing scams that trick you into clicking on an attachment or other file that downloads malicious software to your computer
  • Finding flaws in your software programs or other “backdoors” to get onto your network
  • Tricking someone who has access to your network into sharing their login credentials, either from a phishing email or some other scam
  • Hacking into your network by guessing a password (which can be easy to do when people keep default passwords, write passwords down somewhere that a person can see, or get lazy and use the same ones over and over for work and personal logins—even continuing to use those same passwords after being hacked)

Once they gain access, hackers can lurk around in your files for a while to get the lay of the land, taking over different parts of the computer slowly until they have most or all of your files in their control.

This is devastating for businesses and individuals, but it&’s especially costly for a business. A survey of 5,000 IT professionals in 2020 revealed that companies who chose not to pay the ransom spend over $732,500 to recover their systems. Companies that chose to pay spent almost twice that ($1.45 million) on the ransom and the ensuing cleanup costs.

The Best Protection Against Ransomware

Besides taking proper precautions to avoid phishing scams and using secure passwords, the other important step to take to protect yourself from the costs of ransomware is a cloud storage data backup. This option is available for both individuals and businesses, and it can save you a lot of money as well as heartache. If your files are properly backed up using cloud storage, you won&’t need to worry about losing them to a ransomware attack. You can simply use your backup to restore it all—after you clean out the malware, of course.

Learn more about how cloud storage from Storage Whale can help protect you from this growing threat.