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Stephen O'Connor

By: Stephen O'Connor on August 3rd, 2016

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What is Ransomware?

Healthcare Advice

What is RansomwareViruses, worms, malicious code, bad script. Business owners have a lot to deal with today as cyber-criminals try to sneak into your network to disrupt your daily operations. And, then, there is ransomware. As the name implies, ransomware is a string of code that attempts to take your data hostage and block your access until you pay ransom.

The typical attack is similar to a "snatch and run" scenario, except that rather than siphoning off your data, cyber-invaders use a quick attack strategy that encrypts your data so you can´t access it. The primary goal is to build a fortress around your assets faster than you can identify a breach.

Who is at risk for ransomware attacks?

Ransomware doesn´t just isolate your data. You may find pornography or unflattering text published on your business pages when you log on. Your customers and potential VC partners may see this when they browse your site. And, you have no way to remove unwanted images or text until you find the code to access your administrative chambers. Hospitals, e-Commerce sites, market agencies and anyone that cyber-criminals think may be able to pay their price are potential targets.

While the goal of these sophisticated threats is always the same – to extort money from you – there are different methods of ¨scaring you into submission.¨ Some schemes include threatening messages that warn you if you don´t pay up quickly, data will be gradually deleted until your system and your proprietary data is depleted. Others, display messages demanding you download anti-virus software or other documents in order to clean your system. However, every click releases new threats and more damaging code across the network. No one is really immune to this type of attack threat.

What can you do if you think you have become a victim?

As with all threats that originate on the web, the best way to defend your edges is to proactively manage online security. The following nine steps provide a path to protect yourself and respond appropriately if you think you are a victim of a ransomware scheme.

  1. Install appropriate anti-virus software on all devices.

  2. Implement a strong password policy that encourages all employees to use hard-to-crack passwords and two-tep authentication protocol.

  3. Architect a security system that deploys best-in-class sandbox technology to isolate threats quickly.

  4. Update fixes and patches immediately when they become available.

  5. Backup files regularly and establish off-site storage in the cloud or on alternative storage devices so you can recover data quickly (without paying for access to your own digital assets).

  6. Enable your popup blocker since many ransomware attacks find their way into your network via an infected popup while browsing the web .

  7. Shut your system down and disconnect from the web at the first sign of a potential breach. You can always reinstall your data once the threat has been neutralized, providing you follow step 5 above.

  8. Notify the FBI and local authorities.

  9. Never pay. There is no guarantee your data will be returned undamaged and there is no guarantee any data already siphoned off has not been sold numerous times by the time you see evidence of an attack.


Bad actors continue to find innovative ways to gain access to private and commercial websites. As criminals become more sophisticated, the public sector has to strengthen security protocol or risks becoming a victim. You don´t have to sit in fear waiting for an attack.

  • Monitor your network continuously.

  • Install anti-virus software and firewalls.

  • Establish web surfing policies designed to keep your data safe.

  • Never give in to the threats, contact authorities to report cyber-crimes immediately.

  • Stay vigilant and surf wisely, only downloading software from reputable publishers you trust with verified credentials.


About Stephen O'Connor

Stephen O'Connor is the Director of Brand and Digital Marketing, responsible for many aspects of Advanced Data Systems Corporation’s (ADS) marketing, including product marketing, customer acquisition, demand generation, brand, brand design, and content marketing.

Stephen has more than 20 years of healthcare industry experience. Prior to ADS, Stephen spent 11 years at Medical Resources Inc. (MRI), most recently as the Manager of Marketing & Internet Services, where he and his teams were responsible for all marketing efforts and the market positioning of MRI’s services.

Stephen spends his day's planning, writing, & designing resources for the modern healthcare professional.