You have probably heard of the ransomware attacks that have hit many companies around the world including several healthcare organizations. Because we are so reliant on our computers, the threat of a ransomware attack is very serious and can have significant ramifications, both from downtime as well as potential HIPAA violations for both privacy and security.
The following article was written by a friend who is an IT professional and has given us permission to share it with our clients because he has seen the impact of these attacks. Please read the tips he offers for avoiding ransomware as well as what to do if you suspect you have opened an email with a virus attached.
Thanks to Chuck Warren of Blue Marble for this information.
A new ransomware attack is quickly spreading around the world and shutting down entire organizations while they rebuild from the damage caused by the virus. We ask that you be EXTRA cautious when opening any email since there is no way to prevent it from spreading through the building if any one person clicks on an infected link.
Please remember – IF YOU THINK FOR ONE SECOND YOU HAVE CLICKED ON A VIRUS, PULL YOUR COMPUTER’S POWER PLUG OUT OF THE WALL. If you have a laptop, hold down the power button until it shuts off.
As we have said in the past you MUST question everything you receive in your inbox. Very often the emails that carry viruses like Ransomware look like they are legitimate, or claim to contain something like a coupon for free pizza, or a news story about some celebrity who has died. They are getting better and better at disguising the infected links with something that makes you want to click on it.
Here are a few simple facts that you must keep in mind –
– Our only defenses are education and backup. Even though your important data may be backed up, the virus does more than just destroy the data. Newer versions also prevent your desktop or laptop computer from booting up.
– No antivirus will protect your computer from the virus. If you click on an infected link within your work network you could be completely shut down for days.
– An infected email could arrive from someone you know. Or, it could arrive from something very similar to a subscription you already receive, such as Amazon or Audible.
– An infection could mean things are completely shut down, including point of sales, accounting computers, servers, and your ability to carry out a normal workday.
– Even if you are lucky enough to have everything restored in a few days it will still take months to return to completely normal.
– Macs ARE NOT excluded from this infection’s reach. A Mac computer could just as easily launch the Ransomware virus.
– Only 50% of the people who pay the ransom are able to recover their files so even keeping a bitcoin account ready to pay does not guarantee recovery. It is also difficult to set up a payment account so most people lose their data.
– Everything stated here is the same for your home computers. If you click an infected link you will lose all of your pictures, music, financial documents, etc. at home or at work.
Be extra cautious when opening any email every day, but especially this week. At the rate the bug is spreading around the world it is almost guaranteed that you will know someone who becomes a victim of this attack.
Question everything, trust nothing. Here are a few links to some ransomware news and updates regarding this latest attack.
Slow down when opening your email. Read the sender address and subject line carefully. If you receive an email that does not seem “quite right”, do not click on it. If it came from someone you know and you are not sure whether or not it is Ok to open, delete it and then ask the sender to resend it. DO NOT forward the email to anyone else, by forwarding it you double the chances that someone could click on it.
Remember – DELETE FIRST – ASK QUESTIONS LATER! and if you think you clicked something you shouldn’t have, KILL YOUR COMPUTER. Pull the power plug or network cable, or hold down the power switch until it dies
Copyright 2017 – Chuck Warren – Blue Marble – www.bluemarbleonline.com