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To Pay, or Not to Pay? – How to Avoid Being Held Hostage by Ransomware Cybercrime This Holiday Season

By:Christine Fettinger

ransonwareMaybe you’ve heard some hacker horror stories in your experience. All it takes is clicking one wrong link and then, BAM, malware is installed, accounts are broken into, and identities are stolen.

There’s one particularly vicious tactic that some hackers use now, especially during the holidays. Once their malware is installed on their victim’s computer they do something a little more creative than just trying to rip out as much information as they can. Instead, they will encrypt all the files on their victim’s computer, and then they have the gall to communicate with their victim and threaten to delete all their files. Unless, of course, the victim will agree to pay a ransom to the hacker, then they will show the good will to unlock the files. This type of malware is known as ransomware.

Anyone can find themselves hit by ransomware!

You don’t have to have the tech-savviness (or lack thereof) of the average grandmother to be susceptible to these attacks.

Case in point: the Swansea Police Department (between Providence, Rhode Island and Boston, Massachusetts, just in case you’re wondering), was infected with CryptoLocker (the most popular program for ransomware). That police department ended up agreeing to a $750 ransom in order to unlock their files.

So what are your options if you’ve been victimized?

So you should be considering one of the two options: if you are indeed infected, you’ll have to decide between giving in to their demands and paying their determined ransom or ignoring their demands and see what happens. There’s really no good answer here. Either you pay up, and become an easy target for future attack, or you refuse, and the hacker deletes what was potentially many hours of work.

How do you head them off at the pass?

Before you get taken advantage of by one of these hacker/hostage-takers, heed this advice and you will be forever immune to their attempts on your security: Back up your files. It’s really that simple. It pretty much makes you invulnerable to these types of attacks.

Then you can just respond to their threats in the style of Clint Eastwood in his Dirty Harry films: “Go ahead, make my day, punk.” They’ll delete your files out of spite, but it won’t matter. You’ll have as all your files waiting in the wings to be restored anyway. It’s a true win-win (the first win is knowing you can restore your files, the second is knowing that you can anger hackers who prey on people and their sensitive files).

CyberStreams can help you set up a comprehensive backup and data protection plan for your business, so you never have to give in to the punks who try to hold you hostage. We make backing up your files easy with automated cloud-based backup processes that you’ll never even have to worry about. Call us at (425) 2_74-1121 or send an email to sales@cyberstreams.com today to protect your Seattle, Bellevue and Western Washington business from any threat the future holds.