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Ransomware: a malicious software that attacks an individual computer or an enterprise computer system. The malware gains control of a computer or enterprise system and encrypts your system and software. In order to unlock the hostage data, the cybercriminals demand a monetary payment. Usually, but not always, the bad guys release your system or software when the ransom is paid.


Seamless pattern with Ransomware word

Why Should Businesses Worry About Ransomware?

Ransomware criminals began by attacking personal computers and ransoming the data and systems back to their owners for only a few hundred dollars. Crooks were so successful that it didn’t take them long for them to realize that companies could pay more than individuals, and they began attacking business systems.

Businesses attacked by a successful ransomware occurrence need to:

  • Get their data back
  • Notify customers or clients of the breach
  • Notify the FBI and/or local law enforcement
  • Take steps to avoid a second attack

Instances of ransomware are rampant in the United States; especially hard hit are the healthcare and public sector areas, as well as normal businesses providing goods and services.

Ransomware and Healthcare

One of the most recent victims of ransomware attacks was King’s Daughter Hospital in Madison, IN. The hospital is small, with 89 beds on a Wednesday. By Friday, the hospital had restored most computer systems and was using manual systems if a certain system was still down.

The shutdown was voluntary following the discovery of one infected laptop. Hospital officials said:

“Thanks to education and awareness about ongoing email and cyberthreats, KDH employees acted swiftly once the virus was discovered in an email that appeared legitimate.”

But, Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center was not so lucky. It paid $17,000 in bitcoin to the crooks that held their systems hostage. But the original asking price from the hostage takers was $3.7 million.

Ransomware and the Public Sector

The United States Department of Homeland Security reported in March 2016 that 29 federal agencies were attacked by ransomware, but no ransom was paid. The number of unique attacks on government agencies was 321 for the last half of 2015.

Ransomware and Businesses

Ed Cabrera, vice president of cybersecurity strategy at Trend Micro, commented on ransomware in early 2016:

“SMBs are incredibly vulnerable to these types of attacks; Id say the threat level is critical. Small businesses lack the resources, the security and the multi-layer defense programs to help protect themselves. And its only escalating.”

Ransom is a global phenomenon, but the United States is considered the fat golden goose across the world.

To Protect Yourself and Your Company, Would You Pay Ransom?

Not if you didn’t have to. Following are some ways to mitigate ransomware risk and get your system back up fast.

  1. Be sure to keep two current copies of your backup. The first copy should be stored on site, and the second should be locked safely away – maybe in a safe deposit box.
  2. Educate your employees about taking appropriate countermeasures against ransomware. This means always logging off and shutting down your system when not in use. In addition, teach employees to never open an email or email attachment from anyone who is not known by them.
  3. Keep your system patched with all security updates as soon as you get them, including security updates to programs you are running.
  4. Have a system in place to notify anyone and everyone that may be affected by the ransomware – even if you get your data back and your system unlocked.
  5. Think twice before paying – paying ransom paints a target on your IT systems.

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