Pay up or your data gets it. Ransomware highwaymen's attacks on small biz octuple

Unsurprisingly, Kaspersky recommends prevention

Embarrassed/exhausted man sits in front of laptop in hipstery office. Photo by Shutterstock

Small businesses faced eight times more ransomware attacks in the third quarter of 2016 than the same quarter last year, according to stats from Kaspersky Lab.

Kaspersky Small Office Security thwarted 27,471 attempts to block access to corporate data in Q3 2016, compared to 3,224 similar attacks in Q3 2015.

Ransomware makes your critical business information inaccessible by encrypting the data on compromised systems. Victims are told they need to stump up a ransom in return for a private decryption key if they ever want to see their data again. Effective defences should incorporate regular backups as well as preventative measures. Greater focus on training workers to resist social engineering and phishing attempts is needed in order to blunt the effectiveness of ransomware attacks, according to the Russian security software firm.

"Paying the ransom doesn't guarantee that data will be returned safely," said Vladimir Zapolyansky, head of SMB marketing at Kaspersky Lab. "To ensure protection from ransomware and other types of attacks, businesses need to implement reliable, up-to-date information security solutions as a preventative measure – it is always easier to prevent threats, as opposed to responding to them when the damage has already been done."

Locky is the most prevalent strain of ransomware, hitting 90,000 victims a day, according to security software firm Webroot. The Cysis ransomware targets business and also represents a major threat. Once in, hackers have direct access to desktop and can keep dropping malware even after the initial infection is cleaned, Webroot warns. ®

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