The threat of ransomware attacks has been noted by many cybersecurity experts as one of the most threatening security risks an organization can face. In the past few years, the threat has become pronounced, with a recent report showing that over 50 percent of all businesses that took part in the study were hit by ransomware in 2019, costing them about $11.5 billion.
In 2017, the whole world was brought to a standstill after WannaCry, a ransomware that had the ability to spread fast, infected over 230,000 globally. The damage that ransomware can cause on a larger scale had now been brought to the public consciousness. The attack provided enough evidence of how much of a threat ransomware posed in the cybersecurity threat.
Veterinary practices have also not come out of ransomware attacks unscathed. The WannaCry ransomware hit hospitals in the UK, including veterinary practices, hard resulting in loss of data and revenue.
In 2019, one of the biggest veterinary ransomware attacks was carried out on National Veterinary Associates (NVA), which runs over 700 veterinary practices globally. In total, it is estimated that over 400 veterinary practices were interrupted by a ransomware attack. Although most of these practices run autonomous networks, some of the veterinary practices were left struggling to provide care after they lost access to all their patient information management systems.
Veterinary practices recovery after a ransomware attack
A ransomware attack can be devastating to any veterinary practice that is targeted. At the core of their operations, ransomware extorts money from their target in exchange for decrypting affected files, hard drives and cloud services infected.
Therefore, immediately after getting infected by ransomware, you should take the following steps to ensure that your problem is contained.
Steps to recover from a ransomware attack
Lack of preparedness is preparation for failure, and as cybersecurity experts who focus on threats targeting veterinary practices, we agree.
In the past few years, we have seen stories of veterinary practices being crippled by ransomware, and one thing is always clear for many of these practices, they don’t have plans on how to recover from such attacks. This section will focus on the steps that veterinary practices should take to recover from a ransomware attack.
⦁ Delete the ransomware EXE file
Some ransomware programs hibernate on a computer system for weeks and even months before attacking a network or the system. In such cases, the best way to deal with such a ransomware attack is by deleting the EXE file. Before deleting the file, you should make sure that you are not deleting the wrong files, which can result in system failure and a lack of recovery from a ransomware attack.
However, hibernating ransomware attacks are not always the norm, and you may find your computer system is already infected with the ransomware and cybercriminals have already started extorting money from you. In such instances, you need to run an anti-malware in your system, if possible, to detect the ransomware program and delete it.
In instances where these two methods do not work, consult cybersecurity experts, Lucca Veterinary Data Security, to look at your computer system. They will be able to do a full audit of your veterinary practice IT infrastructure and determine which files have been infected and how they can delete the ransomware EXE file.
⦁ Use good clean up tools
Modern anti-malware and antivirus programs are equipped to detect ransomware programs early and notify you of their existence or delete the programs. Therefore, as a veterinary practice, it is recommended that you get the latest clean-up tools such as Hitman Pro that can help your system get rid of ransomware.
⦁ Test a file to see if you can easily decrypt the ransomware
Uploading encrypted files to free tools such as ID Ransomware can help you determine what type of encryption and ransomware your computer system is infected with. Although the site does not decrypt your computer system, it will help you determine the name of the ransomware affecting your computer and point you in the right direction, which can result in getting answers that can help you decrypt your computer system.
⦁ Decrypt folders using EMISOFT Tools
In some cases, the encryption methods used by ransomware developers are known, and after using ID Ransomware, you are more likely to have an idea of what type of encryption you are dealing with.
The next thing you need to do as a veterinary practice is to make use of free tools such as Emisoft Tools that are capable of decrypting folders that have been affected by malware. These tools are free and can help you get your data back.
⦁ Use Shadow Copy or memory dump to recover files
Having data backup is a winning strategy against ransomware attacks. Using services such as Shadow Copy, and/or having memory dumps of your data can help you get back up fast once your system has been infected with ransomware.
As a practice owner, ensure that you are using services such as Shadow Copy or the Lucca Data Vault to ensure that once compromised, you will be able to get back quickly with no interruption from ransomware.
⦁ Never Pay
This cannot be emphasized enough. Never pay or negotiate with ransomware cybercriminals. There are legal and financial ramifications involved for people who decide to pay to get their files back.
The legal consequences involve funding organizations that may be involved in human trafficking and terrorism. Transacting with such a group, regardless of which country you are from is punishable, and legally your logic will never be enough to explain why you are funding organizations involved in illegal activities.
Financial consequences involve continued harassment from cybercriminals. It is also not guaranteed that once you pay the amount, your files will be restored. Therefore, as a practice owner, do not entertain the idea of paying the cybercriminals. Always be prepared for the worst and have strategies that will not allow you to consider paying cybercriminals.
The best plan is to have the proper protections in place. If you’re reading this article and haven’t been a victim of ransomware, contact us today to learn how we can help protect you from this ever growing threat.
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