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January 24, 2020

Ransomware is now Extortionware

Ransomware is a plague upon society – costing billions of dollars. This money is taken from corporate profits and taxpayer-funded government agencies, cities, states, etc.

In order to ensure business continuity, organizations are installing BCDR solutions from companies like Datto which will make a copy of the company’s data locally as well as in the cloud.

This was an adequate solution for most organizations.

An unsuspecting worker clicks on a bad link from a phishing email, all the computers have their data scrambled and the organization comes to a halt. IT then spins up cloud servers with the data and applications while existing machines are wiped and reloaded with their pre-malware data.

The business is disrupted but can continue. An outage may last hours or days. This is better than weeks, months or a situation where the hacker never releases the data, even if the ransom is paid.

BCDR was an effective solution to ransomware. In fact, it still is.

But hackers have evolved and the chess game between hackers and the rest of the world continues.

Now, hackers are more commonly threatening companies to release their data if they do not pay the ransom.

Ransomware is now Extortionware.

This is happening right now to MDLabs in New Jersey. The lab is being asked to pay $1.7 million dollars in bitcoin-based on the 231 stations which became infected.

MDLabs refuses to pay.

Their data is being leaked. Likewise, the data from Southwire, a cable manufacturer in Carrollton, Georgia is being leaked.

In a post on a forum, Maze says that "another company [MDLab] refused to work with us and thought that they can get away with this." As a result of halting the negotiations, the actor is releasing a cache of files exfiltrated from MDLab's computers to rekindle the discussion.

Hackers are no longer just holding data hostage. They are extorting organizations. Those who do not pay, now face fines, loss of customers, lawsuits and skyrocketing cyber insurance rates. Why? Because when data is leaked out, bad things tend to follow from lawyers and regulators.

This means BCDR is no longer the only solution you need - thanks to Extortionware.

In addition to properly configured firewalls and other network protection, you need phishing simulation – services such as phish360 are a good start.

We have said before that not using phishing simulation is corporate malpractice. Now that hackers can not only hold data hostage but will extort to get their money, you need to ensure your workers are continually trained. Phishing simulation is the best way to do this – and it works great coupled with live cybersecurity training.

Please contact Apex Technology Services ASAP so we can help you avoid being a victim and being put in a situation where you are forced to pay millions of dollars to hackers or potentially be irreparably harmed in the business marketplace.

To learn more:

1) Read cybersecurity essentials – a simple list which will help most organizations become far more secure.

2) Get a free evaluation of your cybersecurity risk from an MSP/MSSP immediately – they can also help you build in the needed compliance to reduce the risk of being fined


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