You turn on your computer, and a pop-up window comes up telling you that you can’t access any of your data unless you pay thousands of dollars. What a disaster! For every day you don’t pay, the price goes up. At the end, your data will be permanently deleted, never to be seen again.
A nightmare has come true for millions of people around the globe. According to NewsBTC, in the third quarter of 2016 alone, almost 1.2 million money-stealing ransomware incidents were discovered. So, how can you protect your practice management from this scourge? Read on to learn about steps you can take to defend yourself against a ransomware attack.
Backing up your data is the best defense against ransomware. If you haven’t already checked it out, take a look at our blog post Backup, Backup and Backup Again.
Of course, backing up data on the same hard drive where files currently reside does not guarantee safety (something we highlight in the post). You want to make sure your data is backed up to an external storage device or server. Otherwise, when your system is compromised, the data does not stand a chance of survival.
You will want to take a look at setting up a Network Attached Storage (NAS) for your practice such as the one manufactured by Synology. This product offers great backup options including multi-versioning.
Keep Your Operating System up to Date
When was the last time you updated your operating system? If you can’t remember, it’s time to do it now.
Older operating systems are vulnerable to hacks because unless you install updates and patches, criminals may have more chances to exploit security gaps and break into your system. Updates and patches close up those gaps, making it more difficult for ransomware to affect your system.
Don’t Recognize the Email Address? Don’t Open It
Hackers frequently launch ransomware attacks by sending emails with infected attachments or links that lead to sites on which ransomware lurks. It doesn’t occur to many people to check the sender or the file extension (something like “pdf.exe” should raise an alarm). As a result, they unwittingly allow ransomware onto their network.
Regardless of how big your practice is, train everyone who has email access to be vigilant about cyber security. Humans are the weakest link when it comes to keeping digital data safe. Educate employees and colleagues about the consequences of ignoring email security best practices to prevent ransomware attacks.
Disconnect Your Network to Halt the Spread of the Attack
In case ransomware manages to infiltrate your network and launch an attack and you realize it before it’s too late, your first step should be to disconnect your systems from the network to stop the attack from spreading further.
Disable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on devices, too. The malware can use methods to upload ransomware to networked devices.
Ransomware can cripple a business. Don’t let your practice management fall prey to it. Stay vigilant and protect your data.