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How to prevent ransomware?

More and more organisations are suffering ransomware attacks, in which cyber criminals lock or encrypt their data. The victims of such attacks are prevented from accessing files, folders or parts of their network, while the digital criminals demand ransom payments, in exchange for which they claim access to files will be restored. Obviously, these kinds of deals provide no guarantees.

It is unsurprising that businesses and organisations are caught out by ransomware attacks. The false e-mails sent by cyber criminals are of high quality and often appear to be genuine. The recipients of these e-mails are tricked into clicking on a link or opening an infected file. Shortly afterwards, their computer is blocked and/or their files, folders or parts of their network are encrypted. Very soon, sometimes after only a few minutes, the cyber criminals announce that the files are being held hostage. They then demand that the organisation make a ransom payment so that it can use the files again. 

Why are ransomware attacks so dangerous?

Ransomware attacks are lucrative for criminals and pose a growing problem. The programs for developing ransomware are simple and can be obtained cheaply on the black market. From a technological perspective, carrying out an attack is not a particularly complex matter. Moreover, companies frequently make ransom payments, which means criminals earn a great deal of money from ransomware attacks. 

Ransomware attacks cannot be blamed solely on employees being inattentive. This type of fraud is well prepared and frequently plays on the victim’s sense of insecurity and fear. Victims may, quite rightly, wonder whether they will recover important files and what will happen if their files are gone forever. According to security software company Symantec, the Netherlands is a top target for cyber criminals. In terms of the number of ransomware attacks, the Netherlands is ranked fourth in the world.


How to protect yourself against ransomware

  • Ensure that online fraud, including ransomware attacks, can be discussed openly within your company and give your employees specific tips for preventing online fraud. Ensure that ransomware is an item on your management agenda, in the same way as other operational risks (e.g. fire) are. 
  • Ensure that your employees know how to deal with emails from unknown senders. The most common way for organisations to be attacked is still through false e-mails.
  • Always make external backups of your files and ensure these backups are not on your network. Regularly check the state of your backups and whether they can still be used. This ensures you always have access to your latest files should anything go wrong. 
  • Segregate sensitive corporate information within your network. By using network segmentation, you can protect your data from external attacks and your most important data is less likely to be affected. 


What you need to do if you become a victim?

  • Never make any payments. Even if you pay the criminals, they already have your data, and there is always a risk that you will not get your data back after you pay.
  • Cybercrime is a punishable offence. You should therefore always report the incident to the police. They cannot track down the criminals unless you report the incident. The police frequently unmask the people involved and also focus on prevention.
  • If you make external backups of your files and you discover that your files have been encrypted, you should stop making backups temporarily so that you do not create a backup of the encrypted files.

Do you suspect fraud? 
Please contact us.

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