Ransomware is a type of malicious software that locks the files on your device so you can’t open them. A message (or ransom note) from the criminal will appear on your screen, demanding money in return for a code to unlock the files.

You can become a victim of ransomware by accidentally by clicking on an email attachment, or if your security software isn’t up to date.

Cybercriminals usually demand you pay the ransom in a virtual currency, such as Bitcoin, because it’s difficult for police to trace.

Ransomware attacks are just like any other extortion attempt. The police advise that businesses should never comply with a criminals’ request for money.

How can you help protect your business from Ransomware?

  • Be wary of unsolicited messages and train your employees how to spot suspicious emails.
  • Always keep your operating system, anti-virus and applications up-to-date.
  • Back up your data. You should save a copy of your important files onto a removable hard drive, USB drive or secure cloud storage. If you back up to a physical device, always disconnect it from the computer when it’s done, because cyber criminals can encrypt or delete back-ups if they’re connected to the computer or network.
  • Test that your back-ups work correctly by regularly restoring your data to a separate ‘test’ location.
  • Put in place incident management plan that has key contacts, processes and business continuity plans in case you do have an issue.


What’s the best way of preventing a ransomware attack?

Use strong passwords and a different one for every account.

Incorrect. This is good cyber security practice, but it won’t stop a ransomware attack because they come through phishing emails or from weaknesses in an out-dated operating system.

Keep your operating system and anti-virus software up-to-date.

Correct. Keeping your anti-virus software and operating systems up-to-date will help stop cyber criminals.

Back up your data on a separate device or in the cloud.

Partially correct. This is an excellent practice and will help you recover your data after a ransomware attack, but it won’t prevent one. The best way to protect your business is to keep you operating system and anti-virus up to date, and to not click on links or attachments in suspicious looking emails.