With Ransomware Attacks on the Rise, Is Your Company a Target?
Imagine hackers getting past your security, encrypting your files, and telling you if you ever want to use them again, you must pay the hackers to get a key to unlock your files. Welcome to the world of ransomware.
Long are the days of hackers installing nasty viruses on your computer where, even though it was a pain, it could be solved with a good antivirus program or a talented IT professional. Today, hackers can install programs on your servers that will completely put all of your files under lock and key, leaving you with very few options – pay the ransom (and there’s no guarantee they’ll give you the password), or start over from scratch.
It’s a harsh reality, for sure, but one that is an ever-growing threat to businesses. Ransomware attacks quadrupled in 2016 and that number will probably more than double in 2017. Larger companies are starting to ramp up their ability to fight off ransomware, but, just like everyone else, it’s still a major problem. Within the past few months, three major ransomware attacks have made the news, leading to a call for more protection.
“Everything that was lost is gone”
You might think that the police would be ready, prepared, and protected from issues such as this. They are, after all, the authorities. Sadly, these hackers are brazen enough to go after anyone, including the police.
In late January, the Cockrell Hill Police Department in Texas announced they had lost eight years’ worth of digital evidence after getting hit by a ransomware attack. The malware, was able to get into their servers after someone clicked on a cloned email made to look like it was sent from a department email address.
According to Stephen Barlag, the Cockrell Hill’s police chief, the hackers demanded $4,000 in bitcoin, which is an untraceable online currency, to release the files. Since the FBI’s Cyber Division told Barlag “paying doesn’t always get you your information back,” they decided not to pay the ransom. Instead, the decision was made to completely wipe infected server, including the backups since they were also infected. The result – eight years of digital evidence was gone.
“Phishing, ransomware and credential theft are not going away”
A report released by communications giant Verizon in late April stated ransomware attacks at the company increased 50 percent in 2016 as hackers continue to shift from going after individuals to organizations.
According to the report, which Verizon issued after working with security company McAfee, government organizations were the biggest targets, followed by health care businesses and financial services.
The level of sophistication with ransomware has gotten to the point that hackers can hit business critical systems and encrypt entire data servers.
Hackers continue to use ransomware because, unlike the Cockrell Hill Police Department, Americans agree to pay off the cyber-attackers 64 percent of the time, with the global average resting at 34 percent, according to the latest study by security company Symantec. Because the hackers know they’ll be successful more times than not, they continue to increase the number of attacks.
“And so let it be read that the loathsome giants do too fall”
Within the past week, a hacker used ransomware to obtain the entire fifth season of Netflix’s hit show “Orange is the New Black,” which was slated to be released in early June. After refusing to pay what the hacker tweeted as “a modest sum,” they announced on Twitter they would release episodes 2 through 10, and added a link to the download.
The hacker also boasted on Twitter that they had pirated other content from Netflix, as well as ABC, National Geographic, FOX, and IFC.
“You’re going to lose a lot more money in all of this than what our modest offer was,” the hacker claimed on Twitter. “Oh, what fun we’re all going to have. We’re not playing any games anymore.”
Netflix said they were aware of the situation, but didn’t go into further detail.
Do You Think You’re Safe?
As more and more attacks are made on larger companies, corporations, and agencies, the more they’re going to beef up their security. Once it becomes almost impossible for hackers to penetrate their defenses, well, that’s when they start focusing more of their attacks on smaller industries.
Doctors’ offices, banks, businesses of all kinds and sizes are the ones that will be vulnerable once hackers turn their full attention to them. If you’re reading this right now, ask yourself this question: Is my company safe from a ransomware attack?
If you have trouble answering, or you’re a bit uncomfortable with your answer, there is a way you can sleep a little better at night.
You can’t protect yourself alone. This is where companies such as Swift Systems come in. They offer managed IT services at a fixed monthly cost providing you with everything from traditional IT support to ransomware protection. Swift keeps your systems up and running efficiently while maintaining the systems necessary to protect you from ransomware. Give Swift a call to see how they can protect you from a ransomware attack.