Professional Insurance Programs

Ransomware: The #1 Computer Cyber Security Threat

Ransomware is a unique threat that become common in the dental and medical market, enough that many people either have been hit with an attack or know someone who has. Below are some basics to help protect yourself and your data.

Q: What is it?
A: Ransomware is a targeted attack of software that encrypts your files, essentially locking them, and then requests you pay an amount to recover the key to decrypt or unlock the files. These files are typically still on your computer or server and nothing has been taken or viewed, but you cannot have access to the files until you pay the ransom to get the key to unlock them.

Q: How do I get Ransomware?
A: Most of the time these come through email links that disguise themselves as shipping notifications. They can also come frequently from a friend who has had their email hacked that has a “secure file” for you to click on or through Facebook and other social media links.

Q: How do I protect myself?

A: There are really four things you can do to protect yourself:

  1. Antivirus and Malware Protection – Ensure that you have up to date protection on your computers and servers. Many of these attacks first step is to deactivate your antivirus so a periodic check is appropriate.
  2. Backup – There are new versions and variants of these Ramsonware threats every single day. Most of the Ransomware is immune to antivirus or other protection methods and the security community is always playing catch up. A good backup is really your only true defense. In particular an offsite or disconnected one is needed as these programs typically encrypt onsite backups making them useless in a recovery.
  3. Be careful – The number one thing you can do is to be diligent on the internet. Do not click on anything that you are not expecting. If you get some sort of notification, don’t click on the link, go to that website directly and log in instead. Additionally always verify when people send you “secure files” by a quick phone call if anything looks out of the norm.
  4. Have insurance – Thankfully new cyber insurance policies are available to protect against significant harm from these events. 

If you have any additional questions or interest in a cyber insurance policy, contact Professional Insurance Programs at 800-637-4676 or