What is malware?
Malware is any software, spyware, virus, trojan etc. that does hard to a computer. In the past, this was usually just a virus, but now there are so many other forms of malware.
What is crypto-ransomware?
Crypto-ransomware is malware that will encrypt the data on your computer with a password and then will not give you access to it unless you make a ransom payment to the user of the malware. The program will make it so that you cannot access any of your files on your computer without paying to do so.
So why this alert? We’ve heard about these before.
Whats new about this new group of malware is that they attack at a deeper level. The older software would just encrypt your data files. You could still access Windows. But the new malware actually encrypts the entire hard drive. This means you cannot even use your computer without paying. You won’t be able to even get into Windows.
Take this for example. The recent attack at Maryland’s MedStar Health hospital network shows just how dangerous this can be. For more than a week, 10 hospitals were denied access to their own networks because the main servers had been locked down by crypto-ransomware known as Samsam.
Think about that for just a minute. Your main servers were attacked and now you down have access to the all the data that actually runs your business or practice. All of your accounting information, patient information, etc. Everything is locked. That’s why these new malware are so dangerous.
How do we defend against this?
It’s a three fold approach to protecting yourself. The first is to make sure you keep all of your software updated. Most of these malware attack well known bugs in Windows or other common software. So keep everything updated.
The second part is to use quality anti-malware software and keep it updated. Anti-malware software that you don’t update is useless. Its like a flu shot for flu strains no longer in the wild.
The last part is to be very proactive about where you surf on the web and what emails you read. Most of these attacks require some interaction from the user. Yes, that means if this happens to you, its your fault. But don’t beat yourself up. These attackers are very savy and know how to increase the chances of getting to you.