Prevent and partner, to best prepare for Ransomware attacks!
The Travel and I.T industries are intricately interwoven and inextricably linked, so it is little wonder that one of the biggest scourges besetting the Travel industry is an I.T based one.
Travel specialists are almost only as good as their I.T capability and competence – and advances in the technology space, especially with software specifically designed for travel applications, have enabled the Travel Industry to be more efficient and organised than ever before.
I.T partners, therefore, are of the utmost importance, not just as providers of better I.T solutions, but because computers and software are open to so many forms of viruses and attacks that these partners need to be protectors as much as they are providers.
In the global Travel Industry, we have suffered multiple Ransomware attacks, and so I thought I would share my feelings on this and what I know about preventative measures, as opposed to simply succumbing to the extortion that it induces.
As always, I look for a positive spin when challenged, and I believe that there are ways that business, in general, can overcome this challenge too. After all the Travel industry are not isolated and certainly not the only ones relying heavily on technology.
What is Ransomware?
For the uninitiated or those who have simply been fortunate enough to have not suffered it, in essence, Ransomware is the blackmailing of computer owners by threatening to destroy their data.
For those who prefer a more explicit definition, this is how protection giants Norton put it; “Malicious software that uses encryption to hold data for ransom has become wildly successful over the last few years. The purpose of this software is to extort money from the victims with promises of restoring encrypted data. Like other computer viruses, it usually finds its way onto a device by exploiting a security hole in vulnerable software or by tricking somebody into installing it.”
The real point is that in every case it could have in some way been prevented and that’s why my take on it is prevent and partner, to best prepare for Ransomware attacks!
What is a genuine attack?
Firstly make sure that you are not simply being duped by what is known as ‘scareware.’ There are many e-mails that infer that you are under attack, but in fact you aren’t, and it’s just scammers attempting a bluffing form of blackmail.
Secondly, if the attack is genuine – Don’t pay! I know this is easy to say when it’s not your businesses data at risk, but in essence, the principle is the same as kidnapping. You have no guarantee that your data will be safe following the payment and by paying you contribute to an already burgeoning hacker industry. Contact your I.T security specialists immediately.
What are good preventative measures?
Have your files safely backed up. This is the best way to be able to retrieve lost data. Your I.T specialist can advise on the safest ways to back up, but saving in the cloud is usually a pretty good option.
Vigilance by all partners is essential. What you download is vital – avoid suspicious stuff, especially freeware. The old saying “if it sounds too good to be true it probably is” should always be uppermost in mind when protecting your computer. Don’t download any .EXE files. These files take no time to infect your computer with ransomware and launch the attack – and don’t download e-mails or attachments from e-mails that you aren’t sure about.
Ensure you are using the best quality antivirus solutions and partner with I.T specialists who are constantly watching out for your data safety. Also check out the antivirus solutions that your travel partners and suppliers are using. If their systems are linking into yours, your level of safety equates to their level of protection too.
Finally, keep your personal identity and information as private as you can possibly manage and stay within the security zones of your organisation at all times. As Travel people, we are obviously big travellers and possibly this opens us up to security breaches and malware too.
Alert your IT people when you are travelling and might expose business information. Make sure you use a trustworthy Virtual Private Network (VPN) especially when accessing public Wi-Fi.
Compromised service is preferable to compromised security
Many may argue that regimented data protection and communication with I.T and other partners will take time that will ultimately compromise service. Remember that compromised security is far worse.
Should we ever be under a threat too great to handle and masses of data are lost, the price we will pay will be far greater. I believe our clients do understand the issues we face too, as we are all pretty much in the same boat!
Thanks to more people taking the kind of measures I have mentioned here and others, globally Ransomware is slowly being defeated and thankfully has depleted in recent times. Let’s stand together, be vigilant, resilient and determined to stamp out this scourge for once and for all.
Business should be prepared, use reputable partners to help you through it & whilst service may be compromised, key is keeping data safe & make sure you remain resilient & vigilant.