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Ransomware is on the rise, but you can protect yourself

Over the past year, we have seen a sharp increase in the number of ransomware attacks worldwide. The good news is that you can protect yourself against ransomware.

Although they date back to 2017 and 2018, WannaCry and NotPetya are still fresh in our minds. It was the first time that the consequences of global ransomware attacks were felt in our country. At the beginning of this year, we saw a new family of ransomware, called Anatova. The US authorities are also fearful of an attack during the 2020 elections. Ransomware is definitely on the rise.

Ransomware: how does it work?

Ransomware is a virus that is installed on a device without the owner's permission. The virus holds the device and the files hostage (using encryption) and asks for a ransom.

Who is targeted by ransomware?

Anyone can become a victim of ransomware: from gamers to the self-employed, hospitals, large companies and the government. In France, a ransomware attack recently shut down no less than 120 hospitals. Earlier this year, a Belgian hospital also fell victim. In its 2018 annual report, ENISA noted that the health sector is particularly targeted by such attacks. In Belgium, too, several cases of ransomware were reported in the press this year.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Private individuals rarely report such an attack and companies are reluctant to disclose that they have suffered a ransomware attack. In addition to the financial losses, the damage to a company's reputation can also be considerable.

How to protect against ransomware?

The good news is that protection against ransomware is possible.

For every internet user:

For companies and organisations:

The recommendations for every internet user are of course also important for companies and organisations, but we advise them to go a step further.

  • For SMEs and the self-employed, Endpoint protection software as listed above may be sufficient. But for large companies, a specialized business anti-ransomware solution is recommended.
  • Provide a business continuity and recovery plan with a tested backup system.
  • Make sure your organisation is prepared for a cyber-attack. Check out our webinar.
  • Have your IT security architecture & policy reviewed by a specialist (including policies on patching, user training, network segmentation, etc.).
  • Work on a cybersecurity strategy. Read how to do this here.

 More info: CERT.be ransomware brochure available in Dutch and French.