Irvine, CA based Hard Drive Recovery Group (HDRG) recently published a blog post that seeks to educate readers on the dangers of ransomware attacks as well as how they can keep both their computers and private data safe. The company regularly posts articles that explore how computers can be used to their fullest potential, and they also make it their mission to help their readers stay safe while browsing the internet.

According to HDRG, ransomware is a type of malicious software (malware) that is designed to force users to pay a fee if they want their personal or company data returned to them in a legible format—hence the name ‘ransomware.’ This is accomplished by encrypting the user’s files in such a way that they cannot access it again by themselves. Attackers that run ransomware campaigns then instruct the user how they can pay a fee in order to unlock access to their files once more, but such fees can range between a few hundred dollars to thousands. Some even accept payment in various cryptocurrencies.

“With the coronavirus pandemic severely affecting healthcare organizations,” HDRG’s post begins, “you would think that cybercriminals would tone down on wreaking havoc on them. A lot of them have actually promised to stop their activities for the meantime until the situation improves, with some of them even offering free service for organizations that have been mistakenly encrypted. But then, there are still some gangs who are not promising anything, with one of them actually threatening to take their actions further especially to big pharma sites, as these organizations allegedly take advantage of the public panic to rake in more profits. For these, let’s take those promises with a bit of salt, shall we?”

In the present climate, many commercial enterprises have found it necessary to relocate their employees’ workspaces and have them work from home. Given that many of these employees are in turn obliged to use their own computer systems to work, it is likely that they do not have the usual layers of cyber security protecting them and their work that they previously had in the office. Furthermore, since ransomware attackers do not discriminate between work and personal folders, any attacks that target a user’s home computer will inevitably capture their own files as well as their employer’s.

HDRG adds, “When there is no one in the office to physically assess their systems, the response time of these IT people to any threat will be greatly affected. So, unless all illegal activities against all organizations that ultimately affect individuals and their data come to a halt, then there will always be the threat of events like ransomware on top of every web user’s head.” This often leaves users or businesses with two main options: pay the ransom and hope the attacker’s offer is genuine or seek the advice of consultants who may be able to recover the data. There have been cases, however, where the encrypted files were not returned even after a substantial payment was made—and attempting to decrypt data without a key is a notoriously difficult endeavor.

It follows, then, that the best course of action is to limit one’s exposure to these attackers and close off any digital vulnerabilities a computer may have, thereby helping prevent an attack altogether. Users are warned to be alert for phishing emails, for instance, which imitate legitimate websites and online portals in order to trick a victim into exposing their passwords and other credentials (which can then be used by the attacker to do what they want with the system). In the same way, HDRG advises users to maintain strong passwords that are regularly changed in order to help ensure security.

Those who wish to learn more are welcome to read the blog post in full on Hard Drive Recovery Group’s official website. The company, which specializes in data recovery on damaged hard drives and other digital media, is always looking for new subjects to illuminate that can help their readers make the most of their digital experience. Those who wish to have their hard drives inspected by a professional are similarly welcome to reach out to Maureen Davies of Hard Drive Recovery Group to get started.

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from Hard Drive Recovery Group