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Every organization that uses the internet is vulnerable to ransomware. Learn more about the dangers associated with this popular type of malware.  

Ransomware is a common type of malware that encrypts your files, typically demanding a specific amount of money as "ransom" in exchange for access to the encrypted data. This malware can be crippling for organizations of any size, and all industries are at risk. For this reason, it is important for every company to understand the ransomware and the dangers it poses.

Laith Pahlawan, an Orange County IT support specialist shares how ransomware works and the impact on healthcare organizations.

How Ransomware Works

Ransomware typically infiltrates your computer system from a malicious link, downloaded attachment or website. When the malicious link or attachment is contained in an email, simply opening the email is not usually enough to cause a ransomware infection. Instead, someone must follow the link or download an attachment from inside the email. In other cases, someone may navigate to a website believed to be safe, only to find that the website has been repurposed by hackers. In this case, there may not be any further action required to allow the malware into your system.

Once the ransomware has infected the system, it may take certain files and/or operations hostage. In some cases, the hacker may ask for a specific ransom in return for the release of the files and/or system. In other cases, you may be told that the hostage data will be deleted if you don't pay the ransom within a certain amount of time.

Consequences of a Ransomware Infection

The specific consequences of a ransomware infection will depend on the unique circumstances, but these infections lead to serious problems for most companies. While the ransomware is in effect, you may not be able to access the information or systems you need to operate your business, leading to frustrated customers and lost income. If the data taken hostage is sensitive in nature, you will have to inform your customers that their data has been compromised, which is harmful to your reputation. If you choose to pay the ransom, it can cost your business a significant sum. If you don't pay the ransom and you aren't able to recover your data and/or systems, your company may be out of commission for weeks or even months while you rebuild.

Because of the possible consequences of ransomware infection are so severe, it is important to protect your company as much as possible. No employee should ever open a link or attachment they don't recognize. In addition, every company should invest in security measures designed to identify suspicious links, attachments and/or websites before they are able to infiltrate your system. If you aren't sure whether you have enough protection in place to prevent a ransomware infection, consult an IT professional for guidance. In the event of a suspected ransomware attack, contact law enforcement and IT support immediately.

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