Image of ransomware affecting a computer

What Is Ransomware And How Can It Affect Your Company?

In August, a new version of ransomware hit the Internet. Discovered by Jakub Kroustek at AVG Technologies, this one is exceptionally worrisome as it masquerades as a Windows update. It even sports a phoney Microsoft 2016 copyright. When you install it, instead of installing Microsoft files as it claims, it encrypts all of your files, making it impossible to access them unless you give into “Fantom’s” demands, which at the time of this writing involved paying for their decryption key.

It’s important not to fall victim to this new kind of extortion. It’s serious and costly, and confounds law enforcement. Knowledge is the best way to protect yourself and your company.

What Is Ransomware?

Ransomware is on the rise and it’s a lot more frustrating and costly than computer viruses. It’s a form of malware that locks your files and keeps you from gaining access unless you adhere to the cyber criminal’s demands and we all know how dicey that can be. You could pay their extortion fee and still be out the files.

Once something only PC users needed to worry about, recently a cyber security expert found a way into the Mac operating system. This could mean future problems for Mac users as well.

There are two types of ransomware:

  1. Locker ransomware: this type locks the infected out of the operating system, including access to the desktop, apps, and files. Your computer is rendered useless, and becomes a very expensive paperweight, unless you pay to have it unlocked. An example of this type was written about in PC World several years ago.
  2. Encrypted ransomware: this type of ransomware encrypts your files and advises you the only way to access them is to pay for a decryption key. The cyber criminals generally give a window of time for payment, such as two weeks. Sometimes the longer you wait, the more the decryption key costs. Most encryption ransomware charges victims several hundred dollars for the key and those who refuse to pay it are at risk of losing the data.

Why Ransomware Is So Costly To Businesses

Obviously, paying decryption fees doesn’t factor into any business’ budget but aside from the extortion fee demanded by these cyber criminals, there are other costs to your business. Such as:

  • Loss of reputation. Now that customers see you as vulnerable it will be hard to re-build your reputation. No one wants to do business with someone who places their files in jeopardy.

  • Cost of reparation. There will be exorbitant costs to your business to recover everything. If you don’t pay for the key, you’ll have to reconstruct it all. Hopefully you have a backup. If your data breach affects your clients in any way, they may have the right to sue you. Clients in the UK can file under the Data Protection Act.
  • Ransomware can spread. If PCs are networked, as in the case of most businesses, an infected computer can take down everyone in the office.
  • Data security is compromised. Some ransomware locks and extracts important information like usernames and passwords. The cost of this can be far reaching from client to employee personal information.

Protect yourself and your business. Consult Tampa managed IT support company CIO Tech at 813-649-7762.

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