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January 09, 2017

Think Before You Submit A Ransomware Payment

Recently we asked a customer what he would do if he opened his computer and found it was infected with ransomware, a type of malware that will encrypt either your machine or its data and hold it until a fee is paid. The customer claimed he would readily hand over the money to get his property back. In fact, he thought little of it — and claimed it was the fastest means to an end.

We weren’t surprised to learn this. Recently, we highlighted a study where 70 percent of respondents admitted to paying a ransom following an infection. In the study, 25 percent of people claimed they have paid between $20,000 and $40,000!

Look: we understand why some people choose to make payments following a ransomware attack.  But understand that if this is your plan for dealing with an attack, you should reconsider your strategy.

Making a ransom payment, however large, will not ensure you get your assets back safely. A new type of ransomware has surfaced, for instance — KillDisk— which asks for an average ransom payment of almost $220,000 in Bitcoin. KillDisk then keeps the payment, and wipes the stolen data—in effect robbing the victim blind.

So as you can see, making a ransom ware payment is a desperate measure that is not even guaranteed to work. There is a much safer and more effective way to deal with the threat:

Back up your data and store it in a secure device or facility. It’s that simple.

This way, in the event your machine becomes infected with ransomware, you can ignore the ransom request and focus instead on removing the malware from your system so that you can go on with your work. The malware may destroy your information, but it won’t matter because you will have a carbon copy of it. 

If you don’t back up your data, the choice will be to either make a payment, or lose access to your information forever. And that is not a choice you want to have to make.

Trust us: The ransomware epidemic is bad and getting worse. Record highs were reported in 2016 for ransomware infections, and experts believe that we will see many more attacks in 2017. And the scariest part is that ransomware is still evolving. As the above-mentioned KillDisk strand proves, ransomware is changing in complexity. It’s becoming more sophisticated, harder to track and increasingly dangerous.  And just when you think your organization is safe from one type of cyberthreat, two or three new ones will pop up that you need to be aware of.

Apex Technology Services can work with your business to ensure a proper data backup system is in place. While you can’t always prevent a ransomware attack, you can make sure you have a sound plan in place to recover quickly and with minimal damages. Apex will also continuously monitor and patch your network, to ensure it is continuously updated with the latest safeguards.

A new breed of hacktrepeneurs has awoken and they have little to fear and everything to gain by infecting as many companies as possible and extorting money from them. Apex Technology Services stands ready to protect your company regardless of whether it’s located in New York CityWhite Plains, New York; Connecticut; Australia; Europe; or anywhere else. Our full suite of cybersecurity and IT support services is at your disposal, enabling you to spend less time worrying about and more time growing your business.

In addition, our new Cybersecurity Compliance Certification for law firms will help keep your legal practice from becoming the next Panama Papers victim. This baseline cybersecurity audit for the legal industry should be considered seriously by all law firms.

Apex Technology Services
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