Cisco recently released their Annual Cybersecurity report for 2017, which revealed several statistics I thought were real eye openers. You can pick up a copy here: http://b2me.cisco.com/en-us-annual-cybersecurity-report-2017.
Of the major findings in this document, I consider a few quite concerning, in particular:
“Spam accounts for nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of total email volume… about 8 percent to 10 percent of the global spam observed in 2016 could be classified as malicious” (Cisco, Inc). As an IT or Finance professional, your email application sits in the foreground of your work space for most of your day. Cisco’s researchers give credit to the recent increase in global spam to the Necurs botnet which they indicate is the primary vector for the Locky ransomware.
Ransomware is a malicious software that blocks your access to a computer system until a ransom is paid. Locky is particularly nasty in that it encrypts information on PC or server hard drives. Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center was a victim when Locky gained entry into the network and proceeded to encrypt data. Hospital administrators chose to pay the $17,000 ransom to obtain the decryption key so they could resume operations.
I don’t have $17,000 to spare. You probably don’t either so here are a few ideas to protect yourself personally from this kind of nastiness. These really only scratch the surface but these steps are something most people can do without too much help.
- Use antivirus and anti-malware software. Pay the annual subscription fees if required. Some internet service providers offer a limited number of installations of popular antivirus software that include regular updates.
- Don’t store important data on your PC or laptop. If you get infected, wipe and reuse.
- If you must store important data on your PC or laptop, keep two backups. Yes, two. I know it’s inconvenient. Your first should be an external hard drive that is only connected when you are performing your backup. The second should be in the cloud, for example Dropbox, OneDrive, or Google Drive. Your cloud storage should not be automatically connected when you start your computer. This gives the malware opportunity to spread. Instead, only run the sync program once per day when you are performing a backup.
- Keep your operating system and software you use updated. Don’t be that person who only updates when a new version is released. That person gets infected. Be the person who routinely applies updates to software – especially your operating system and antivirus software.
Cisco, Inc., “Cisco 2017 Annual Cybersecurity Report”, March 2017, Downloaded from