Ransomware attacks have grown in frequency over the last few years and these unique cyber-attacks are affecting businesses and individuals alike. These cyber-attacks can be targeted at a specific business, industry, or just random attacks to any computer that they can reach. Ransomware attacks can cause devastating damage to your computer systems and leave you without access to your computer or files.
It has become more important than ever to protect yourself or your business from ransomware attacks. It has also become important to carry Commercial Cyber Insurance or Personal Cyber Insurance to help yourself recover from these types of cyber-attacks financially and with guidance.
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What is Ransomware?
Ransomware is a type of malicious software referred to as malware. This malware will make your data and computer unusable by encrypting your data with strong encryption rendering it unreadable by anyone but the ransomware attackers.
The malware makes it clear that the only way to retrieve your data is by paying the ransom by their due date before your data gets deleted by the malicious software.
What if I Backup My Data?
If you are backing up your data regularly, that’s fantastic. Please keep backing up your data frequently as that is your best option for retrieving your data if something were to go wrong. Preferably, your data backups are offline and if you are operating a business, not in the same location as your main data. Some malwares can spread to other computer systems on the same network so having your data offline or not plugged into the computer can be critical timing when a system becomes infected.
Data backups will not solve all problems though. Ransomware has been known to sit dormant in a computer system for months before it has been activated. The reason for this tactic is for the people who are regularly backing up their data. Once you retrieve your latest backup, you may find that the malware simply activates itself again. This is because the malware has been restored along with your data in the latest backup.
For personal users, data backups can be life savers. You will be able to retrieve important photos, documents, and files that may not change very frequently. You could be happy with those backups if you are not making frequent changes.
For business users, missing out on a month of data could not be an option. Business data is changing daily and not having transactions for a month could be a massive problem. Best case scenario is that you can retrieve the data, to put back on a newly formatted computer system, but that is a lot of extra work and time to lose.
Is There Personal Ransomware Coverage?
Yes. There are standalone cyber insurance policies for individuals that will provide you with coverage for ransomware attacks. This coverage will respond for needed ransom payments and the possible recovery or restoration of your software.
Is There Business Ransomware Coverage?
Yes. You can obtain a Cyber Insurance for your business that will respond to ransomware events.
In the majority of policies, there will be coverage available for reputation repair, customer notification, and if needed, credit monitoring for your customers.
How Does Ransomware Coverage Help?
With the information above, you might be asking what exactly the coverage would help with if even your backups are infected. Ransomware attacks can be an expensive event in your life. You might have not any recourse except to pay the ransom that is being demanded for your data.
Every insurance company will provide different coverage, wordings, and exceptions. If your personal or commercial cyber insurance policy includes ransomware coverage, this could save you thousands, or even in some cases, millions of dollars in ransom payments.
There is usually coverage also available to get your computer systems operating as they were prior to the attack and in some cases, there might be coverage for attempts to retrieve your data if required.
This can be a very complicated subject and it is always best to rely on your insurance broker for personal or commercial cyber insurance policies. Your broker is a skilled professional who can help you determine which coverage is best for you or your business.
How Can Someone Recover from a Ransomware Attack?
Recovering from a ransomware event is never an easy endeavour. The very first step would be to isolate that computer from the rest of your network. Some ransomware malwares will spread itself to other connected computers or devices on the network.
Hopefully you have a dedicated IT team/person or if you’re an individual, hopefully you know a good computer service business. The other hope is that you do have cyber insurance before you got hit with the ransom software. If you have cyber insurance, once you have isolated that computer from the network, it would be best to touch base with your broker for your next steps.
Relying on your frequent backups might save a lot of your data but be sure that the data has not also been infected and doesn’t infect the other computer you are checking the data with.
Once you have dealt with the ransomware on your machine, please ensure that you have changed all passwords for every account you have.
Ransomware Decryption Tools
If you’re lucky, you may have gotten a well-known ransomware that has already been reversed engineered. There are tools that have been put out by some of the large anti-virus companies that will decrypt hundreds of different ransomware variants.
We have provided a sample list of these tools for you here:
- The “No More Ransom” website is an initiative by the National High Tech Crime Unit of the Netherlands’ police, Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre, Kaspersky, and McAfee with the goal to help victims of ransomware retrieve their encrypted data without having to pay the criminals.
- Avast Free Ransomware Decryption Tools
- Kaspersky Free Ransomware Decryptors
- McAfee Ransomware Recover
If there is no available tool for the type of malware you have on your system, unfortunately the only response might be to format (wipe) the computer system or pay the ransom.
How to Avoid Ransomware
Avoiding ransomware is getting harder everyday as the bad actors who create this malware are trying harder to infect as many systems as possible. There is a lot of money being transferred to these attackers and because of this, things are only going to get worse.
To avoid ransomware, you should spend time learning how to identify phishing and fraudulent emails. If you are operating a business, it is critical that you also have your staff frequently training to spot these emails. Clicking the wrong link in an email is a very common way to get infected with these types of malwares.
You will also have to learn how to avoid websites that could harm your computer system. You should have an anti-virus and an anti-malware software or hardware protection setup for your computer or business.
Another critical step is to make sure your software is up to date. Have the Windows Updates or other operating system updates done frequently on your computer systems. Keep all software and firmware up to date as possible in any hardware devices such as routers or firewalls. There are daily zero-day vulnerabilities in software and hardware. These updates are trying to protect you, so it’s always in your best interest to stay up to date.
You should also have strong password habits. If possible, use a password manager. A password manager will make it so that you only need to remember 1 password as it will remember all the other passwords for you. Then you can generate strong passwords without any worry of having to remember them.
Knowledge is Power
Having a highly skilled individual walk you through the coverage you need for yourself, or your business, is priceless. If you currently do not have any cyber insurance protection, it would be in your best interest to reach out to see what type of coverage you need and to obtain your no obligation quote.