Ransomware: Not Going Away, Increasing in Frequency and Sophistication

Ransomware attacks continue to increase in frequency, and are becoming more sophisticated and targeted, meaning that an email containing an infected attachment can seem like it is coming from a trusted source such as a vendor or company. Malicious emails often no longer contain the typical indicators of phishing attempts, such as poor grammar and spelling, or "from" addresses which you do not recognize. It is extremely important to review all emails for content and purpose, and never open any attachments before verifying that the email is intended for you and is something which you were anticipating for a specific purpose.

What is Ransomware, and how does it happen to you? Ransomware attacks begin when an individual clicks on a malicious link or attachment in an email. Ransomware will then encrypt, or 'lock' all of the files on the user's computer, rendering the files unusable and inaccessible. After the files have been encrypted, the user will be prompted to pay a ransom to unlock their files.

Who is vulnerable? Ransomware attacks can be perpetrated against anyone, and caution must be practiced at all times.

How will you or your business be impacted?

If you fall victim to a Ransomware attack, the impact to individuals and businesses can reach far beyond removing the infection and recovering your files, and could also include:

  • Temporary or permanent loss of sensitive or proprietary information. Your personal or business files could be temporarily inaccessible or lost forever.
  • Disruption to regular operations. In the time it takes to respond to the attack, your computer files and the files on your network will be inaccessible, leaving your business inoperable or significantly impaired.
  • Financial loss. In order to fully respond to and recover from this threat, you may be required to invest significant resources in repairing and restoring your device or network, whether it be through the use of an internal or external IT Professional, or in extreme cases where a lack of preparation has left you with no other option to recover your files, paying the ransom.
  • Harm to an organization's reputation. Your business may suffer reputational harm when current customers or prospective clients learn that your business operations and their personal information have been affected by a Ransomware attack. Being prepared to appropriately prevent, detect, and respond to these events can help ensure a timely resumption of services and the protection of private customer information.

How to protect yourself: Prevent, Detect, Respond

  • Keep your anti-virus software active and up to date. Your anti-virus software is only as good as your last update.
  • Back up your files. Though creating a backup of your system will not prevent the execution of Ransomware, this preventative measure will allow for the recovery of data in an efficient and effective manner, without having to pay a ransom.
  • Be wary of suspicious or unsolicited emails, especially those which contain attachments or links.
  • Pay attention to anomalies when using your device, whether your computer seems to be running differently than usual, or if your computer is on a network of computers and seems to be communicating in a way in which it does not typically.
  • Educate yourself on Ransomware by reading this and similar alerts, such as the one released by the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Canadian Cyber Incident Response Center (CCIRC), which can be found by typing the following link into your web browser: https://www.us-cert.gov/ncas/alerts/.
  • Paying the ransom is not recommended, and there is no guarantee the files will be decrypted upon paying the ransom. It is always recommended that victims work with an IT professional first before negotiating with the attackers.

For More information on Ransomware including an example of what a ransomware email might look like, please review our previous alert on Ransomware. It can be found by typing in the following web address into your browser:


If you have any questions, please contact NBT Bank at 1.833.NBT.4BIZ (628-4249)