January 25, 2017 15:24
Published: May 13, 2017 15:11
In the modern world of business, we as business owners have an entire world of worries that we deal with on a daily basis, everything from how to grow our companies, how to make better products and services, take better care of our people… the list goes on.
Security is no doubt on the list. And more specifically, cyber-security. As it should be.
The world of business is now largely online. Most companies have a website, and more and more companies are using VoIP for their business phone systems and utilizing cloud storage than ever before. Worse yet, it seems that once we figure out how to handle one threat, a new one comes onto the scene to take its place.
And so enter our newest jerk-face hacker brain-child, ransomware. And if you’ve never heard of it, it basically works exactly like it sounds.
Ransomware is basically malware (malicious software) that is included as a virus in an email or corrupted attachment that adds coding to all the files on a user’s computer, then delivers a message that the computer will be “unlocked” or “freed” once the user pays the “ransom” to have their machine released. These ransom demands are usually a few hundred dollars, but can go as high as ten thousand.
Originating somewhere around 1989, this malware didn’t really start picking up much use until around 2008, ironically during one of the worst economic downturns that North America has ever seen. It started off pretty simply, with hackers dropping a virus in an email that would lock up a user’s computer, demanding “payment of fines” for “illegal activities” by a police or government agency.
In America, these hackers were impersonating the FBI. The worst part? People were paying it. In droves.
You see, once the virus was created, it could be sent to hundreds of people at once. And even if one person in a hundred paid the $200 to $10,000 “fine”, one can begin to see how lucrative this industry became.
Fast forward about a decade, and the last twelve months have seen the largest growth in ransomeware distribution in history, and not just down in the U.S. Here in Canada, we actually saw more attacks than our southern cousins. Why is that?
A recent survey of Canadian companies reveal that over half of the companies surveyed feel confident in their security and believe that they can withstand an attack, though a full third of those companies have actually had to deal with one form of ransomware or another over the last year.