16 May 2017

Protecting Against Cyber Threats

What is Ransomware and how can you protect yourself against it?

Recent events have shown that the cyber threat is very real. The NHS and many other organisations around the world suffered sever disruption after a piece of malicious software spread over the internet.

The healthcare sector is a particular favourite target of cybercriminals due to the massive amounts of client data held on their servers and because of the amount of disruption that can be created if it suffers a breach.

What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a type of malicious software (malware) that essentially takes control of a machine and prevents users from accessing it. Often, Ransomware is triggered by a user clicking on a dodgy link either on a website or in an email, much the same way as other malware. The main difference is that it tries to force its victims into paying a ransom through certain online payment methods in order for them to regain access to their system or data.

The WannaCry malware that infected over 200,000 computers worldwide was likely spread by people receiving emails that encouraged them to click on a link. This type of cyber-attack is called Phishing and often goes hand in hand with Malware.

What is Phishing?

Phishing is when a scammer tries to trick you into giving away your private information such as passwords, credit and bank card account details or download malware onto your machine. They do this by pretending to be a legitimate contact and then trying to convince a target to open a spam email, click on a dodgy link or go to a fake website.

Cyber criminals prey on people’s ignorance when it comes to the importance of backing up files. Once the ransomware gains access to a device, it tries to remain hidden while it searches for files to encrypt.

Once the victim is presented with the malware’s message stating that their data is encrypted, it is too late. Once the ransomware infects the victim’s computer and blocks access to their data, it then needs to convince the user to pay the ransom to regain access. R ransomware often employs several behavioural-economic, psychological, and social-engineering techniques to persuade the user into paying the fee.

How can you protect yourself against Ransomware?

  • Backup your important data – Always create offline backups of your data that way if you are hit by Ransomware the impact will be far less.
  • Avoid the Phishers - Never click on emails or open attachments that look suspicious. Be vigilant with every email link or attachment and if you are in any doubt delete the email as it is better to be safe than sorry.
  • Patch- Keep your computer up to date with the latest software patches. One of the main reasons WannaCry was able to spread so far and so fast was because of organisations not keeping their machines up to date. Malware is constantly evolving and only by patching can you keep your machine safe from the latest versions.
  • Anti-Virus – Make sure your machine is protected by anti-virus software and make sure to keep it up to date. Many anti-viruses have the ability to scan emails and tag them as potentially dangerous.

Newcross and Cyber Security

Newcross Healthcare takes the issue of cyber security very seriously. All of our clients can be assured of our digital security with all data from digital pens encrypted and stored securely, and only relevant team members and clients have access. The achievement of the ISO27001 standard for information security demonstrates our commitment to ensuring our use of existing systems and the integration of new technologies meets an internationally recognised standard.