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May 31, 2017

Top 3 Ransomware Myths Debunked

The global ransomware epidemic remains in full swing, and shows no sign of slowing down any time soon. In fact, things could get a lot messier before we see any improvement.  

Just how bad is the situation? According to IBM, ransomware emails have grown by 6,000 percent since 2016. And the U.S. is now the top target in the world for ransomware attacks.

Now that ransomware is receiving mainstream media attention though, (following the recent WannaCry outbreak), we have been seeing quite a bit of misinformation in circulation from business leaders who are trying to make sense of it. There are some pretty wild theories about this dangerous form of malware, and so we wanted to set the record straight.

Here are the top three ransomware myths, debunked:

You have to download ransomware to get infected: Right now, the vast majority of ransomware “lives” in email attachments as well as on websites and advertisements. End users get infected when they click on an infected file, thereby executing it. 

There have been recent reports, though, of cybercriminals using brute force attacks to spread ransomware. For instance, hackers can gain access to a computer by manually entering common username and password combinations until one works, by targeting open RDP ports online and even by buying access to hacked servers in online marketplaces. Once they get inside of a system, all they have to do is embed ransomware onto the computer and exit without a trace. So your computer could be infected already. You just may not know it yet!

Ransomware only impacts Windows systems: It’s true that 98 percent of WannaCry victims were running Windows 7 (even though experts believe many infected systems were bootleg versions that lacked proper security patches). Keep in mind that ransomware can affect all Windows operating systems, though, as well as Mac and Linux systems. In fact, according to Wikileaks, the CIA has reportedly “lost control” over a special hacking unit that was built specifically for Macs. So it’s possible we could see more ransomware attacks geared towards Mac systems this year, as the necessary hacking tools are now in the wild and easily accessible. Keep in mind also that Mac ransomware grew by 744 percent last year.

All you need to do is back up your data: Sure, backing up your data is a great way to keep it safe from hackers — assuming it’s done correctly, and hackers can't access to your duplicate files. At this point, hackers are well aware of this ransomware safeguard and are getting better at digging deep into networks to uncover information.  

For this reason, we warn customers about the pitfalls of performing “do it yourself” network maintenance. Ransomware is getting much more dangerous, as hackers are using cutting-edge toolkits to exploit system vulnerabilities. Small security mistakes could lead to catastrophic consequences, and so it’s worth considering outsourcing security operations to a managed services provider like Apex Technology Services offering expert guidance and care.

To learn more about how Apex can protect your network, click here

A new breed of hacktrepeneurs has awoken and they have little to fear and everything to gain by infecting as many companies as possible and extorting money from them. Apex Technology Services stands ready to protect your company regardless of whether it’s located in New York CityWhite Plains, New York; Connecticut; Australia; Europe; or anywhere else. Our full suite of cybersecurity and IT support services is at your disposal, enabling you to spend less time worrying about and more time growing your business.

To ensure your security, consider one of our most popular services — Auditing & Documentationwhich pinpoints vulnerabilities in your infrastructure, process flow and internal security procedures.

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