By Arielle Mullen

You may remember crypto malware recently making an appearance on our picks for the top Cybersecurity Threats of 2019. Today we thought we'd do a deeper dive into what exactly crypto malware is, and the actions you can take to help safeguard your systems against an attack. 

Crypto malware (also called "ransomware") attacks a computer system by sending the recipient an email with an attachment, that when opened will infiltrate the computer and encode files. The sender will then inform the recipient that their files are being held, and unless they pay a ransom (generally in Bitcoin), the files will be destroyed.

This is a great Radiolab story on Ransomware.

To ensure you don't fall prey to crypto malware, we recommend considering the following actions:

  • Turn Web Protection on
  • Enable AV Live Protection and Behavior Monitoring
  • Restrict write permissions on file servers if possible
  • Let your employees know they should contact the IT department if they encounter a file that can't be opened, or any suspicious popups 

Senior Consultant Cory Emmett believes the most effective protection is prevention. 

"Its attack vector is almost exclusively email attachments. People must be hyper-vigilant when opening files sent via email, always ensure that the recipient is a trusted source, and that an email from the sender is expected." 
Cory Emmett, M&I
Even the most sophisticated antivirus and spam filtering systems have a hard time protecting against Ransomware, and we believe helping to educate our clients is our number one tool to prevent it. 
"I'd also like to stress the importance of backups. All of our clients have backup monitoring built into their monthly service agreements which checks to make sure backups are working as expected. However, in the event of a full-scale Ransomware attack, all data that the person had access to will be gone, which is why backups are so important." 
Cory Emmett

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