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7 tips to toppling ransomware attacks

By now you’ve heard of ransomware, right? That hectic malware that encrypts your files, locking them down and holding them to hostage until a ransom is paid. Never mind state capture, we’re talking business capture.

Ransomware is more disruptive than a highway taxi blockade on a Monday morning, affecting not only your business’s productivity, but its bottom line too (the real baddies can demand bounties big enough to fund a Gupta wedding).

If you don’t want to fall prey to these tsotsis of the tech world, listen up. The best way to protect your business is to be prepared. Educate yourself and your staff around ransomware, and then implement best practice prevention tactics across your business.

You can start with these:

Don’t open sommer just any email

Ransomware has to come to you somehow – normally in an unsolicited email. If you don’t know the sender, you can check the text of the mail, but don’t open any attachments or click any links in the mail.

Beware of skelm web adverts

You may not have heard of it yet, but maladvertising is essentially malware that poses as an advert or innocent-looking link on a website (yes, even trusted sites). If the product looks interesting, do your own Google product search. Don’t click links or adverts on unfamiliar sites.

Be a social larny

Nobody likes a snob, but when it comes to unsolicited messages on social media, you’re allowed to turn up your nose, northern suburbs style. Messages from unknown sources on Skype, Facebook and Twitter can contain viruses, so avoid them like the plague (and make sure your privacy settings on all your social media accounts are updated and secure).

Jawellnofine, just back it up

As much of a mission as it seems to be, the only real way to ensure your business never gets held to ransom, and is never at risk of losing data or having sensitive data end up in the wrong hands, is to back it all up. You should also implement a comprehensive ransomware protection solution, like Sophos Intercept X. It blocks the malicious spontaneous encryption of data; automatically rolls back encrypted file changes to their ‘safe state’ with no data loss; and protects against local and remote encryption.

Howzit, software updates!

Adequate ransomware protection and software updates go hand-in-hand like bobotie and Mrs Ball’s (one is nothing without the other). Never delay or disable your OS or anti-virus updates, and don’t expect staff to perform these updates on their own. Rather, adopt software update policies that can be centrally managed and automatically implemented on all devices in your network.

Yebo yes to good, strong passwords

When it comes to company passwords – eish! Okes, you need strong defences. Ransomware tools are specifically designed to exploit weak and defenceless devices to gain access to data, and spread the virus. Protect devices with strong password policies that are regularly updated in line with current guidelines (and that offer protection from exploits through remote protocols, such as SMB or RDP).

In case of attack, act chop-chop!

No, not now-now and certainly not just-now, if you suspect your network has been infected, immediately switch off all connected devices and disable any WiFi or LAN connections. The longer devices are online, the higher the risk of the virus spreading. Make sure any USB drives like flashdisks and external hardrives that were connected to the infected device are kept away from other devices.


Gatvol of not knowing enough? Here’s what to look for:

  • Ransomware viruses often come in unsolicited emails asking you to:
  • Enable MS Office macros
  • Open an attached invoice
  • Check the details of an unexpected payment into your bank account
  • Provide your banking details (appearing as though it comes from your bank) via a link in the mail
  • Check out a tax rebate payment that has been made into your account or a tax payment that is due, via a link in the mail
  • Activate a suspended mail account