The threat of Ransomware

Pierluigi Paganini July 21, 2016

Recently, Reuters reported that the FBI sent an urgent confidential ‘Flash’ message to businesses and organizations to warn them about ransomware.

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It is that dangerous. This is a new version of the ransom note, a form of malware that interferes with access to user files and data by encrypting it. Those running the malware infection, then blackmail the user into paying a ransom to restore the data. Lately, two new versions of ransomware have been reported: Cryptolocker and Locky. Apart from the FBI, security experts send out alerts on new forms of ransomware as cyber criminals around the world attack more and more people and organizations.

Ransomware such as Cryptolocker and Locky are not new; they have been around for the last few years. Typically, victims get attacked with ransomware when they unknowingly click on a malicious link or advertisement or open an infected file sent to them as an email attachment.  

CryptoLocker Ransomware

When this happens to an organization that has sensitive documents, like a healthcare institution that has patient records, or a bank or other financial institution that has financial records, things can really get out of hand. In February this year, two German hospitals were infected by ransomware, as was a medical center in Los Angeles. The US institution had to part with $17,000 to have their patient files restored.

Staying safe

When it comes to malware, prevention is always better than healing the infection. Apart from educating users not to open suspicious attachments or links, there are many solutions which can help you to prevent such incidents.

“Filtering out infected emails before they reach the user’s inbox and blocking malicious links are the most efficient methods of preventing malware infections,” explains Ronny Wolf, GFI Software’s security expert.

Different products are used to meet specific needs. Email is secured with GFI MailEssentials, which blocks emails containing malware like Locky and also enables effective spam filtering. Network protection is also provided with the use of GFI WebMonitor, another product that allows you to monitor and control your web activity through monitoring downloads and managing internet usage throughout the company.

Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs – ransomware)

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