In the technology space, there is impending doom for many businesses who are vulnerable to ransomware. Ransomware is a virus that encrypts your files and requires a ransom to be paid before allowing you to regain access to them. And like most viruses, ransomware has many strains and has taken on many forms – making it more difficult for antivirus software to detect it. Among some of the more popular (and by popular, I mean catastrophically devastating) ransomware is CryptoLocker. Its origin dates back to 2013 and successfully extorted around $3M that year from victims of the virus. Since then, many other ransomware viruses have claimed the same name but has been verified that they are quite different – except for the similarity in the inconvenience it may cause you. I’m also using the word ‘inconvenience’ lightly here. This actually occurs more often than most people realize and since it can happen so easily and cause such damage to your business, we’ve decided to write an article to help de-mystify this pain-in-the-butt. Starting with…
How it happens
Back in the dark ages of computing….okay, let’s say the late 2000’s, you would have to download a file on to your computer for a virus to gain access to your system – but these days, it’s as simple as opening an e-mail, clicking on a link, or breathing. Most of the time, it goes undetected – you won’t even notice that you clicked on a bad link or opened an e-mail that would send the virus crawling through your User drive, encrypting files in the background while you’re perusing YouTube videos about cats. Once it has encrypted all of your files, it will move on, through your server, to other computers in your network and infect them as well. Once it has encrypted most, if not all data files, a pop up will appear that notifies you that all your files have been locked and to regain access, you will need to pay a ransom. And while most experts would discourage you from actually paying the ransom, they’ve also admitted that it is near impossible to regain access to these files by other means. In case I haven’t been enough of a bearer of bad news, I’ll fill you in on one last thing: in a lot of cases, even after you pay the ransom, there is no guarantee that they will send you the decryption keys. Thus, your data is lost forever.
(Okay, it might not be. Stay tuned for part 2 to learn how to prevent this from happening to you.)