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February 15, 2017

Why You Shouldn't Pay a Ransomware Ransom

Awhile back, we explained that paying a ransom after getting infected with ransomware like Cryptolocker or something similar is a bad idea because you could wind up funding terrorist groups like ISIS and others.

This week at one of the large security events in California, the industry discussed what you should do when you get hit.

Notice we used the term “when” you get hit and not “if.”

The odds are that if you’re breathing, your company will get hit with a ransomware infection on a machine. Your personal computer or mobile device might get infected as well. If you do get an infection, your computer files will become encrypted and inaccessible. You will be forced to either pay the ransom or risk losing your files forever. Sometimes, depending on the variant, you have a certain amount of time to make the payment and more files become unrecoverable as time goes on.

Roughly 40 percent of all spam emails in 2016 contained ransomware, according to a recent IBM Security study.

So, why has ransomware emerged as a top cyberextortion tool? Part of the reason is that it works incredibly well. Nearly 70 percent of business victims surveyed by IBM said they paid hackers to recover data. The incentives of hackers are straightforward — they're looking for a big payday — but it's less clear whether their victims should cooperate.

"It's very simple in my mind," said Michael Duff, the CISO for Stanford University, on a ransomware panel at the RSA Conference in San Francisco on Monday. "If you're not able to reconstitute a system in the timeframe you need, and you need it up and running, pay the ransom."

Remember, Apex broke the news about the billion-dollar ransomware market in 2016 and its only getting bigger. We’ve been on the forefront of keeping you informed about the problem with articles such as ransomware FAQs and being a source for Wikipedia entries about ransomware variants. In addition, we’ve brought you coverage about FBI comments about how to deal with the ransomware scourge.

The more money ransomware purveyors make, the more they spread ransomware. And there’s nothing that can even stop the epidemic, either, as most ransomware operations are being conducted by smart people in nations beyond the reach of law enforcement.

Now here’s the really scary part:

Ransomware is still evolving. And it’s getting much more dangerous.

This week, researchers at Georgia Tech unveiled a new type of ransomware and showed how they used it to gain control of a simulated water treatment plant. The ransomware could enable a hacker to shut down the water system, or even poison it with large amounts of chlorine for a massive terrorist attack.

The project was reportedly the first successful ransomware demonstration for controlling a programmable logic controller (PLC).

There are many ways to protect yourself, though, and having up-to-date-backups and engaging in frequent user training are a few basics EVERY company needs to be focusing on. Remember to protect yourself ahead of time and try not to be a victim.

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.

To ensure your security, consider one of our most popular services — Auditing & Documentation — which pinpoints vulnerabilities in your infrastructure, process flow and internal security procedures.

Apex Technology Services
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