Q: What the heck is ransomware? I’ve seen the word used in different contexts, but I’m not sure exactly what it means. Do I need to worry about this as a business owner, or as an individual.
A: Actually both. Ransomware can target individuals and businesses. But because businesses and organizations have much deeper pockets, they are increasingly becoming more attractive targets.
This is how it works:
You go to work one morning, turn on your computer and instead of seeing your familiar screen, you get a message with something like:
Your data files have been encrypted.
If you want a key to unlock your data, you must pay $5,000 in bitcoin by using this link.
If not paid within 24 hours, the price of the key will double.
They essentially take your data “hostage” until you pay a “ransom”. As you can imagine, any organization that is targeted is basically crippled until they comply. And these cyber criminals know that the company is very likely to pay in order to recover their data.
In fact businesses are more likely than individuals to pay ransomware. According to a December 2016 study by IBM 70 percent of businesses infected with ransomware have paid to regain access to their systems. In comparison, over 50 percent of consumers surveyed said they would not pay to regain access back to personal data, aside from financial data. BTW, if you become an individual victim, the ransom will more likely be in the hundreds, not thousands.
So what can you we do to protect against this new threat?
Educate yourself and your staff. The way ransomware gets into your system is similar to the way other malware gets in: by someone being tricked into clicking something they shouldn’t. So it’s important that everyone is aware and vigilant.
Back up everything all the time. Whether you use separate hard drives or cloud storage services like Carbonite or Dropbox, if your data is backed up, the cyber criminals don’t have any leverage.
Note: Don’t confuse ransomware with identity theft. Ransomware doesn’t use your information to open credit card accounts or impersonate you, they simply lock your data and block your access to it. Hope this helped.
©Copyright Eva Del Rio