May 25, 2017

Ransomware Update: 2017’s Impact to Date

Remember us talking about ransomware— malicious software that encrypts files, blocks access to computer systems and requires an anonymous payment— and how it was going to disrupt a lot of businesses this year? Well, unfortunately, we were right.

According to a CNN report, ransomware is on track to become a $1 Billion industry. Since the beginning of 2017, there have been a number of data breaches and cyber-attacks, including the following:

  • Brooks Brothers- Malware on the point-of-sale devices used to process credit card payments in 223 retail stores between April 2016 and March 2017 were affected by the breach.
  • Zomato- Approximately 17 million user records (addresses and passwords) were stolen from the online restaurant search and review service company's database.
  • Google Docs- phishing scam hit more than 1 million users and gave the hacker full-access to their Gmail accounts.

Video about the Google Doc Scam) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZB6xyDyrcz0

The U.S. isn’t the only country being hit. A ransomware attack leveraging alleged NSA hacking tools hit the U.K. National Health System mid-May and has spread globally, impacting hospitals, universities, manufacturers, major companies and government offices including FedEx and Spanish telecom Telefonica. The malware, named WanaCryptOr 2.0 ransomware or Wannacry, locked up 300,000 computers in 99 countries total and has been named one of the biggest cyberattacks EVER!

Global Cyberwarfare
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Attacks can happen to any sized business located in any country and even individuals who leave themselves vulnerable. A massive data breach can cause interruptions that could result in loss of potential revenue or a ruined reputation.

If your business and data gets infected, you may wonder what your options are and what to do. Unfortunately, you’d find out quickly that once your computer is infected, your options are very limited:

  • Pay the ransom.
  • If you have an IT provider with security expertise, they should ID the virus, isolate the issue, recover your files from a backup and restore systems.
  • If you have no file backups, then you can hire an IT expert and try to recover your files.

In an effort to avoid being infected, you can take some precautious steps to better protect yourself, your business and your clients:

  1. Be cautious of opening suspicious emails and attachments. You’ll want to educate your staff and your clients so they know what to look out for as well.
  2. Implement network-wide security solutions and use encryptions when you can. See if you can implement a two-factor authentication program.
  3. Monitor your network activity and don’t forget regular backups and security tests. According to wired, “One reason these attackers can do so much damage is that the average time between a malware infection and discovery of the attack is more than 200 days, a gap that has barely narrowed in recent years.”

You can also contact a professional to ensure you don’t fall victim in the year of ransomware! ComputerWeekly predicts that in 2017, at least a quarter of small businesses will turn to more specialized, managed security service providers (MSSPs) for their security needs, and this percentage will continue to increase each year.

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