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Ransomeware - Modern day piracy is rampant!

March 29, 2016

Backup

 

A decade ago,  backup had been proposed as a necessary precaution to a disaster.

In the past, that meant hardware meltdowns, water damage, fire, and to a lesser extent, malicious damage caused by inadvertent or intentional actions of employees.

 

Viruses had an impact, but realistically with limited precautions it represented a minimal threat to a business.

 

Jump ahead a decade or two and we now have ransomware.  Now we have criminal organisations funding geeks to do their bidding to take your money.

 

How did we get to this?

 

For a long time virus producers were geeky socially inept people who wanted to show that they were powerful, not weak.  Like artists they focused their minds on a very narrow field for impressive amounts of time to outsmart the highly paid and skilled producers of software. 

 

Most of this attention went to Microsoft PC’s running Windows and MS Office.  But now if you own a Mac you too are considered a worthy target.

 

What did they want?  Recognition.  For a while that was enough.  Being known, even anonymously, as the person that hacked NASA, a bank, a retailer or just your average innocent PC was good.  But being recognised and poor wasn't sustainable.

 

Enter organised crime.

 

Offer a geek better computers, money and a sense of purpose and perhaps even a sense of belonging, and suddenly the picture changes radically.

 

Rather than destroy your computer’s contents it became infinitely more profitable to sell the information to the highest bidder.

 

Your banking logon details, your share portfolio details, your confidential emails and contacts all represented value to those who could use the information to steal your money, create credit fraud, and blackmail someone to paying money and giving away more information about their employer’s systems including sensitive logon details.

 

Still there were only so many genuinely gifted geeks so the scope of these operations was limited.

 

And then came the dark web. Initially intended to be a safe place for business and the public to transfer information anonymously, it became a place for geeks and crime syndicates to freely share their software, schemes and scams.  A place to market their wares with little chance of getting caught.  A place where even naive pre-teens and teens could source powerful programs to release into the wild, just for fun.

 

And then along came ransomware.  Ransomware is a really easy concept.

 

Most people and employees have only a few types of files on their computers that they create.

  • Word files

  • Excel files

  • Picture files

 

Using a very simple program originally designed to protect files, our would be hacker encrypts the files (scrambles them), puts a notice on the computer with a ransom threat promising to restore the files if money is paid to a specific account by a certain time.  The alternative is to ignore the threat and lose all of your documents.

 

Your system has not been modified and new documents are not encrypted because all traces of the program used to make this possible have been removed from your system.  The hacker doesn't even have to hack your system as you did it for him simply by opening a file attached to an email with an interesting title.

 

Some people simply accept the situation and pay the ransom to get their documents.  Some actually get their documents, most do not.  Others chalk up the situation to a hard lesson and lose all of their documents.  Some people with computers on networks realise that the files that are lost are not just theirs but all the files the business relies on to deliver the services that create their livelihood.  Almost no one, not even a large business has the resources to de-crypt these files by brute force.

 

There are only three ways to escape this fate.

  1. Hope it never happens to you (a high percentage live here).

  2. Pay really big money to try to de-crypt your files, and hope it can be accomplished.

  3. Have a daily backup routine and restore you documents to their original state in minutes or hours.

 

Backups are the obvious and effective way to ensure your business does not fail because someone who couldn’t care less about your well being unleashed a cyber-attack on your systems.

 

For the relatively small amount of money to setup your backups and ensure they are running this is a form of insurance you can afford.

 

You may not think it is worth your time and money but the guy in the photo below certainly does.  What are you waiting for?

 

 

For more information please contact us and we will remove this risk from your business.

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