If you are unfortunate enough to be the victim of a ransomware attack, there are basically only three options open to you. Ransomware is a type of computer virus that kidnaps your data and holds it hostage for money. It has become increasingly common to attack governments and all manner of business and non-for profit institutions. Veterinary practices and animal owners, with all their personal and billing data are good targets.
Why is ransomware so nasty? Because it steals the most important thing your veterinary practices possess data. Worse, once infected there generally isn’t a way out. No one can “disinfect” your machine. You aren’t going to be able to call in IT support to solve the problem. Basically, you have three options.
- Pay the ransom. This payment is usually via credit card or bitcoin (a digital currency). Some ransomware viruses even provide helplines if you’re having trouble. Of course, there are no guarantees you will get access to your data – these are thieves you’re dealing with.
- Don’t pay and lose your data – This has its obvious downsides, unless…
- You have a safe, clean backup. In that case, you are stuck with the nuisance of restoring your data with the backup, but you aren’t out any money. However, this comes with a caveat: your backups have to be clean. The problem with ransomware viruses is that just making backups may not be sufficient to protect your data, as the backups can be infected also.
As you can see, the first two options aren’t very favorable solutions. The only real defense against an attack is the third option. You have to be prepared ahead of time with a safe, segregated backup. Be sure to get the advice of a specialist on how to protect your data from this very serious threat to your business.