In one way or another, you might consider this to be the worst type of cyber attack you could face. It's not that it's more devastating to you (which it can be), but more because you actually have the opportunity to talk things through with your attacker, whilst not being able to do anything about it. It's actually pretty evil. Let's explain. A ransomware attack is literally in the name. This is where a cyber criminal gains access to your device, encrypts it, and holds it ransom for a nominal fee. Quite often, if it's a personal computer etc, the fee will be high but affordable. Something like £300 or so. If ever you are the victim of such an attack, you have 2 options. Either pay the ransom and retrieve your data, praying it doesn't happen again, or, call the cyber criminals bluff and let them do their worst. Although it may seem like the easier option, we'd never recommend paying the ransom. Here's why - what is to stop them doing this again to you? More importantly, the scam worked on you. They got paid. So they'll move onto the next unsuspecting victim. Effectively, paying the ransom encourages the criminal to do it again. After all, it's easy money. You could call his bluff and let him encrypt your computer indefinitely. From there, you could either cut your losses and lose all your data and reset your computer to factory settings, or have an expert try, with no guarantee, to decrypt it so you can access your files again. More often than not, it'll be the former. Whatever path you choose, the results are pretty bleak for the victim. So how do we turn a weakness into a strength? Honestly, it could not be simpler! All you have to do is back up your data. The only power the cyber criminal has is that you need your data that is held on the computer. That's it. Now, if you had a recent backup and were held ransom. Simply refuse to pay, reset your computer and restore the back up. It's like nothing happened. To be honest, it's not the most exciting solution. There's no fancy tricks, but it is the right solution. Time and costs are kept to a minimum. Also, you get to act smug to a criminal, which is pretty fun. So let's talk about how to back up your computer. There's are 2 main options to consider - External Hard Drive Depending on the size of the data, a USB Drive may do. Simply plug in your device, then copy & paste all of your data to it. Eject the drive and keep it safe somewhere. We'd recommend doing this frequently. Once a week is a good idea, but really you should ask yourself - how far back in time am I prepared to go? If you can afford to lose a month's worth of data, then you'll know you can backup your data once per month. There are pro's and con's to an external drive. Firstly, you have complete peace of mind that you know where your data is, and where it isn't. However, you'll only have the one copy - so if the drive fails or somehow gets corrupted (which isn't that uncommon), your whole backup is lost. On top of that, it's also just another thing you have to carry around with you. Cloud Back Up Some examples are Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, Dropbox, Box and so many more. The cloud has quickly become the norm in our lives. Most services are moving that way for the convenience and the cost savings. Effectively, the cloud is an external drive that you can't see. It's enormous and heavily protected by the geniuses that created it. Literally 10's of billions of pounds went into developing it, so we're betting it's a little more secure than our USB stick hidden under our mattress. Additionally, it's automatically backed up. There are servers all over the world backing up your data instantly, so you don't have to decide how much you can afford to lose. However, it's not all positive. There's nothing to say it's a perfect system. A cyber criminal may be able to gain access to it, however unlikely. Also, you generally won't know where your data is being held. You can ask whoever is hosting, but people generally don't. Our preference? The cloud. Not only for the security, but also the convenience. We can access our data anywhere from any device if we know the login details - just keep those safe. Find out more by watching our video on The Cloud.
And remember, ransomware is evil, but it's easy to prevent - back up your data!