rsz_1226884181_sIn a recent article on the Wall Street Journal, “Ransomware” was described as a major challenge for small businesses. Titled, “Ransomware, a Growing Threat to Small Businesses,” the article tells a sad story of how more small businesses are falling victim to Ransomware, losing thousands of dollars in the process.

A story is told about a Houston-based employee who went to his desk one morning only to find his computer locked! Within hours, a rogue computer code had spread from the employee’s computer to the company server and even locked the backup system. The code encrypted the firm’s financial data as well as claims information. Within several hours, a ransom note appeared on the initially infected computer demanding $400. It read; “Pay $400 within 72 hours to unlock the data.”

Mark Stefanick, CEO of Advantage Benefits Solutions, says he learnt with shock about the incident. However, what surprised him most was the low ransom; only $400 dollars? He says his first thought was to ignore the ransom demand and try to regain access to the locked files on his own. However, his IT provider advised against the decision saying it would take thousands of hours trying to break the code on the encryption.

In the end, Mr. Stefanick’s marketing manager loaded $400 on a MoneyGram gift card and sent it to the hackers, and within 30 minutes a program to unlock the encryption was sent.

Things could get worse

While the situation is already worrying, especially for small businesses, things could even get worse in the near future.

Ransomware first appeared several years ago. The very first one, Cryptolocker was used to lock down files such as photo albums and word processors until a ransom was paid. When Cryptolocker was shut down by police in 2014, everyone celebrated. Little did we know that even stronger versions were on the way! Currently, there are two active Ransomware programs; Cryptoware and Cryptowall.

Ransomware works by infiltrating a computer if a user clicks on an attachment or link in an email. You can also be infected when you visit a random website using your computer. Once inside the computer, it encrypts or locks up files, making them inaccessible. Ransomware can also easily spread to other computers and servers in a network.

According to Mercury News, Ransomware incidences are rising steadily. Between June 1 and December 31, 2014, the Internet Crime Complaint Center received 1,646 Ransomware attack complaints. And between January 1 and March 31, 2015, there were 629 complaints. Considering that most cases are never reported, the numbers could be bigger.

Be safe from Ransomware; move to Cloud

The first step in securing your data is to install a strong antivirus on all your computers and mobile devices and keep the software updated. Missing even one update could leave you vulnerable.

Secondly, NEVER open files or click on links in suspicious emails. It’s even advisable to avoid downloading free software programs that you can’t be sure are safe.

Finally, and most importantly, backup your data. This way you always have data to work with should you fall victim to Ransomware. There are several ways of backing up data. For enhanced security, backup your data in the Cloud.

Basically, programs like Cryptolocker make certain changes to your files. Since all Cloud providers scan all uploaded files in real-time, it’s very easy to notice the changes. Most Cloud companies also provide live versioning, so not all will be lost even if you upload an infected file. And for the infected files, you can still download older versions and get back to normal.

MCORE Inc. is a cloud service provider; and one of the services they offer is managed IT services. With this service, they can help prevent you from becoming a victim of ransomware. For more information on how they will keep your business secure, you can reach them through this number: 844-546-2673. MCORE Inc. will take your business to the cloud and will make sure your files are safe from these cyber threats, call today!