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Defense Against Ransomware Attacks Can Start With The Cloud

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Defense Against Ransomware Attacks Can Start With The Cloud

July 20, 2016
By Steve Anderson
Contributing Writer

Ransomware—and the new variant known as “ranscam” that works like ransomware but doesn't actually return control of files once a ransom is paid—is on the rise all over, mainly because users are so willing to actually pay up for the return of files. Even hospitals and other healthcare operations are being targeted, and there may be one simple fix in the form of cloud systems.

It's a disaster no healthcare organization—or anyone else—really wants to face; some hacker manages to get control of a system long enough to install an encryption package, and won't give up the encryption key without a healthy payment. Since healthcare operations require careful record-keeping, and protection of said records, there's a clear motive to offer up payment. Other options, however, can help keep a system up and running even through ransomware's threat.

Some advocate a move to the cloud, where the information in question is always available to any system that can authenticate appropriately, including mobile devices. This has proven to be a great option for a wide variety of firms, but it's far from the only one, and some even think that it's not the best. A move to the cloud doesn't completely remove risk, and it actually just reduces some of the dangers involved. The use of email services and email scanning services can be a much bigger help, as it prevents many forms of ransomware from gaining access in the first place. It filters out messages that may contain the ransomware infection or a link that may lead to it.

The use of online enterprise content management platforms, online file repositories and documentation collaboration systems can likewise help, thanks to an independent ability to restore files from a separate location. The use of infrastructure as a service (IaaS) systems, however, just makes for something of a different danger. Cloud providers have some protection against hackers, but it's still each organization's responsibility to protect the technical environment.

Perhaps the best way to defend against ransomware is to keep files backed up remotely. While this isn't always easy for healthcare organizations who must answer to federal regulators on several fronts, the ability to restore a system by just disconnecting an infected computer, junking it for scrap, bringing in a fresh one and putting all the data immediately back in place therein is worth doing, and in a big way. Whether the backup is kept in the cloud, in a wholly offline system that depends on air gap security, or even in both, the value in such a protective measure can't be underestimated.

Systems need protection, and healthcare systems especially so. Stopping ransomware altogether is as easy as making sure no one ever pays a ransomware user, and to do that, it's all a matter of having properly secured remote backup, on the cloud or elsewhere.

Edited by Alicia Young

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