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It?s a typical Thursday afternoon. You?ve been working and answering emails all day, until one comes through with a link from a coworker. You click it – suddenly your computer starts acting funny. You can?t use any more functions on the machine, and suddenly a message pops up: ?To unlock this machine will cost $1,000, payable in Bitcoin. If not paid in 48 hours, we?ll wipe the drive.?

No, this isn?t a scene from a bad cybersecurity movie – it?s a ransomware attack, and they happen every day to unsuspecting victims in business and in their personal lives. Keep reading to learn more about this cyber threats and how to avoid them.

What Is a Ransomware Attack?

Ransomware attacks can be some of the most devastating and memorable attacks to happen to an organization. While malware or a trojan may create a backdoor that quietly sneaks data away without your knowledge, ransomware attacks take a different approach. They come out all-guns-blazing, and take over computers or networks and lock them, often with a ransom or demand in order to unlock the attack.

It seems like every week there?s another story about a ransomware attack in the news, and the ransom requests keep going up.

Ransomware attacks may occur on single devices, or across entire organizations – but neither should be taken lightly. The other issue is, since you?re already dealing with a cybercriminal, there?s no guarantee if you do pay the fine, you?ll get your data back or your machine unlocked – so you might be out cash and all the sensitive data you had locked away.

How Do Ransomware Attacks Occur?

Human error is often the main cause of a ransomware attack, because many are originally spread through phishing schemes that target unsuspecting employees. Often it?s a link in an email that gets through, in many cases passed around in a traditional phishing scheme structure.

In other situations, ransomware is passed on through drive-by downloading, which is the infection of malware from infected sites through the downloading of files without the user?s knowledge. Of the two, this is the more dangerous way of being infected, since it can happen even if I user doesn?t click on a suspicious link or attachment.

Who Causes Ransomware Attacks?

In short, hackers. However, the reason for a ransomware attack could be one of a million reasons. Perhaps it?s to hold your accounts ransom for money, or politically motivated – but regardless, they?re not something to trifle with.

As with many cybercrimes, as technology becomes more integrated in society and attacks growing in popularity, they also grow in cleverness and complexity. However, as the rate of cybercrime continues to grow, it?s only inevitable that ransomware attacks will continue to grow too.

What Are My Options?

Well, the first step you should take is to improve cybersecurity practices within your organization. A little bit of education can a long way towards avoiding human error in ransomware attacks, and getting your employees trained should be step one.

The next step, however, is to improve your cybersecurity systems – or worse yet, try and handle a preexisting ransomware attacks. That?s where the professionals come into play.

Partnering with a local IT consultancy is the best way to ensure your cybersecurity initiatives are handled with the best care possible. Our security experts at NENS can do just that – and more.

From preventing ransomware attacks to removing trojans and malware, to teaching your employees how to spot potential threats coming in from the web and email, our team of experts is the best option for your organization to stay safe from ransomware in 2019. Give us a call today to learn more about our services and what we can do for you.