Ransom Ware on the Rise - A Creative Services, Inc. Compliance Corner Article

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Ransom Ware on the Rise


Ransomware might sound like a new line of outdoor adventure apparel, but the reality is much worse than anything that even the worst fashion victim will experience.

In brief, ransomware is a potential breach of all your data, or worse – delivered by extortion. It manifests as a virus that encrypts or otherwise blocks all access to your systems and may even block your view of the screen by displaying, ummm… let’s say inappropriate content until you do the kidnappers bidding. The most common ask of these hacks is financial, though demands for other items of value, such as trade secrets, strategies, and databases are also on the rise.

The ransomware trend has moved well beyond the fad stage and is not going away anytime soon. Just one of hundreds of ransomware tools net over $18 million from less than 1000 known firms between April, 2014 and June, 2015. We say ‘known firms’ because the FBI estimates that less than 30% of victims of ransomware ever report the data security faux pas.

These infections are the height of hackware - VERY hard to stop once the infection occurs. So good, that in October, the FBI recommended that firms without viable back-ups should “just pay the ransom” if they want their data back. Most of the hackers are true to their word - it would be bad for business to do otherwise, after all. The success of these hacks over the past few years has created a proven path to easy money for honest thieves everywhere.

Fortunately, you have more options than just waiting for embarrassing content to pop up on your screen before you attempt to cover up with the checkbook.

  1. First, don’t click on ads, links, or email attachments if you are not sure who is behind them, no matter how amazing that new adventure outfit looks. This seems like common sense, but is still the most common method for delivery of all types of malicious infection.
  2. If you do receive a ransomware note, disconnect from the internet immediately.
  3. You have an infection and should take immediate action to stop the unintentional transmission of all your data.
  4. Fastest response: Turn off the infected computer first.
  5. Next – Back up you data, offsite.
  6. Instead of paying the ransom, you can wipe the infected device and restore the backup prior to the infection.
  7. Third, consider fighting software with software.
  8. Akati Consulting has published a list of the known anti-Ransomware tools here.

In short, follow all the normal and practical guidelines. Fun and adventure is much more enjoyable when you don’t have the barrel of a malicious mouse pointing at your pocketbook.

And don’t fret about the fashion: For data security, basic black is always in style.

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