Ransomware – this is how you beat blackmailers


As you would have probably heard, the ransomware WannaCry recently attacked approximately 200,000 Windows PC users in more than 150 countries.[1] The cyber criminals used the attack to encrypt sensitive data on the PCs, held the data hostage and demanded a payment of 300 US dollars in the form of the crypto currency Bitcoin. If those affected did not pay the amount within seven days, the blackmailers claimed they would delete the encrypted data. The attack affected a wide variety of organisations and individuals, including healthcare institutions and logistic companies.

For now, the range of impact of the malware has been mitigated. But the possibility of further attacks is still a very real threat. Now more than ever, it is important that organisations and individuals ensure they understand how to deal with these digital attacks and, more importantly, how to protect themselves against them in the first place.

How to deal with digital blackmail:

  1. Never pay the ransom

It can be tempting to give in to the demands of cyber criminals in the hope of fixing the immediate problem quickly, but remember you have no guarantee that you will actually get your data back. If you show the hackers that you are susceptible to blackmail, they may attempt to make further demands of you.

  1. Don’t click on any email attachments

There are multiple ways that cyber criminals can infect your system, and one of the most common methods is through spam. So if you receive a message from an unknown email address, and are asked to click on an attachment for further information, never open it.

  1. Keep your software up-to-date

Always make sure that any software updates and patches are set up to be installed automatically on your devices, in order to close any weaknesses in your system. This ensures that you never miss an update and your system is kept safe. It may seem obvious, but WannaCry exploited vulnerability in the outdated Windows version XP, so make sure you only use software that is still supported by the software provider. Having an up-to-date system not only protects against ransomware, but generally against the theft of personal data; for when it’s transferred during online banking or when using cloud services like iTunes.

  1. Use security software

To protect your system from unauthorised access, we recommend a holistic security solution, such as the one provided by our partner Norton by Symantec.

  1. Regularly back up your data

A regular back up of your data on an external hard drive, USB stick or similar storage mediums will take away the leverage from blackmailers. Locally separated storage in the cloud is an option here too; as you’re then able to recover encrypted data from another source. Also, you should conduct regular checks to make sure you’re able to restore your back up properly.

Protection measures at 1&1

For systems managed by us, such as web hosting, email and e-Commerce packages, 1&1 always offers the latest software updates and patches and installs them directly. In case of self-managed servers, the customers themselves are responsible for updating their systems. However, when we provide our customers with these products, we always make sure that automatic updates are activated.

[1] For further information on WannaCry, please visit the blog of security expert Symantec: https://www.symantec.com/connect/blogs/what-you-need-know-about-wannacry-ransomware?linkId=37539318


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