What to do if you’re attacked by ransomware

by | Feb 27, 2024 | Finance and Business

You’ve likely heard about “ransomware” attacks on the news. Ransomware is a type of malicious software, or “malware,” that spreads through an entire computer system when it’s downloaded. The malware locks out users or steals their data. Then cyber criminals demand payment (also called ransom) for returning access to the systems or giving back the files.

Here’s what to do if it happens at your job or home.

How does it happen?
The majority of ransomware attacks come via “phishing” messages, like emails, texts or social media messages. In a phishing message, the senders impersonate people you know or authority figures, like your company’s leaders, police officers or government agencies like the Canada Revenue Agency. They ask you to download a document or click on a link. When you do that, ransomware downloads onto your device, spreading through connected systems and accounts, and locking you out.

How to fix it
Start by trying to isolate the device or devices affected from the rest of the network. If you don’t have an in-house IT person or team, you’ll need to contact an expert to try to unlock your devices and remove the malware.

If you’ve properly backed up all your files, retrieving them from storage is a relatively easy process once the ransomware is cleared from the system.

Report it
Ransomware attacks are crimes and should be reported to the police. You or your organization should also contact the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

There are several reasons why you should never pay the ransom. For one, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get access to your system or files after paying it. In fact, the cyber criminals might ask for additional payments. In some cases, the data may already be deleted. What’s more, paying the ransom encourages future attacks and the funds could be used to support organized crime.

How to avoid future attacks
Install anti-virus and anti-malware software on all company computers. This will scan incoming messages for potential threats before they land in your inbox. Also, install all software updates as soon as you receive them.

Train employees to only download files that they’ve confirmed are from a trusted source and avoid clicking on anything suspicious. Check the email address that the file came from – often the details don’t match who it’s supposed to be coming from.

Backing up your files offline can also help you prevent the worst damage if you or your organization do fall victim to a ransomware attack.

Learn more at getcybersafe.ca/ransomware

Related Content

3 tips to keep your home-based business safe and secure

3 tips to keep your home-based business safe and secure

Your home is your sanctuary. But if you run a home-based business, it could also be your office, showroom, storage locker and more. Therefore, it is doubly important to protect it and its contents. Here are three ways to protect your home and business. Protect your...

read more
The hidden costs of condos and how to manage them

The hidden costs of condos and how to manage them

Condo ownership has surged in recent decades. For a growing number of Canadians, owning a condo is one of the most significant investments of their lives. Condos can be an attractive option based on cost, convenience, amenities and location. One advantage is that you...

read more
Quick facts about the new Underused Housing Tax

Quick facts about the new Underused Housing Tax

You may or may not have heard that there’s an Underused Housing Tax (UHT) in Canada. Is it what you think it is? Does it apply to you? Here are few quick facts you should know. It’s not the vacancy tax you’ve heard about You may have heard of vacancy taxes in some...

read more
How to get the government money available to you

How to get the government money available to you

Let’s face it: no one loves doing their taxes. But, in addition to being your civic duty, it’s your doorway into receiving many of the federal rebates, benefit or credit payments you could be eligible for. Here are four ways to make sure you get all the money you’re...

read more
Tax-time guide – Tips for stress-free filing

Tax-time guide – Tips for stress-free filing

The tax deadline is inevitable every year, whether it fills you with a deep dread or you actually enjoy putting everything together. Here are some important things you should know this year to help you get your taxes done as easily and effectively as possible. File...

read more