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Cyber Crime Avoidance Part 3 – Prepare Against Ransomware

If you do not know what ransomware is, let’s hope it stays that way.

Ransomware is a virus or malicious code that is invited into  your computing network and sets about making all your data, images and other files inaccessible.  Inaccessible, unless you have the correct ‘key’ to unlock them – and this is when you need to pay money.

For example:  An email arrives into your inbox advising you that you have a package to pick up at Australia Post.  IT has a file to click on, advising you to click on the file to find out the time and place you are able to pick up the package.  When you click on the attached file, it installs code into your computer that scurries around your files looking for your data.  When it finds Word documents, or images, Excel documents, PowerPoint documents ( you get the picture) it encrypts them.  Not satisfied in encrypting your files, it will also feed itself through your whole network and encrypt files on other computers and servers that you may have on the network.  Your computers will still run as normal – but when you try and open a Word doc (for example), it will tell you the file is encrypted, cannot be opened – and you need to link to a certain web site that advises you you can obtain the ‘key’ to unlock your encrypted files by sending BitCoin to an overseas address.  Majority of times, the ransom increases if it is not paid by the advised time frames.

There is not much you can do, once your files are encrypted.  Hopefully you have backups and you do not need to pay the ransom – which in most cases does not work anyway.


If you think your system is infected, unplug it immediately from the network.  If this is too hard, turn the machine off.  This might not stop encryption on your device but you can certainly minimise it feeding through the network.  Ring your IT department and let them assess the damage.


The best scenario for eradication is to rebuild all infected systems.  Anti Virus and Anti Malware software are all good and work well – but our advice is to be totally sure – rebuild and reinstall backups of your data.


Ensure all staff are aware of the dangers of clicking on attachments in emails.  If an email is unexpected, or comes from a bank you don’t bank with – exercise caution.  Ransomware is invited into your system and not just spread automatically like a normal internet virus.  

Further info on detection and prevention can be found here at SME SECURITY FRAMEWORK


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