In March of this year, the owner of Hard Times Café in Rockville, MD tried to log onto his back office system and the screen was frozen. He could not access any files and spent hours on the phone with his POS Solutions provider when he was greeted with a ransomware message demanding $10,000, paid by Bitcoin, to release encrypted files.
Ransomware is a type of malware that prevents users from accessing their system, either by locking the system’s screen or by locking the user’s files unless a ransom is paid through certain online payment methods to get a decrypt key.
The FBI’s advice was either pay the ransom or shut down your systems and rebuild from scratch. But Roth would rather wipe out the old and start again, before getting in business with criminals. And that’s what Hard Times Cafe did. More than three decades of data was gone, thirty-five full and part-time employees were out of work for a week while the restaurant was closed and revenue was lost.
Ransomware attacks are on the rise and have quadrupled in the first half of 2016 alone. According to CNN the digital extortion of ransomware is expected to grow to $1 billion by the end of 2016. You can’t prevent a ransomware attack, but you can protect against it.
Here’s what you can do:
1. Keep your software up to date. Make sure you regularly update security, anti-virus and anti-malware software, including operating systems.
2. Staff awareness and education. Organizations typically get infected by ransomware through an end-user clicking on a web link or downloading an attachment that is infected with the virus. Always double check the source and refrain from opening unknown attachments. If you are not sure, don’t click it!
3. Complete regular data backups to minimize the impact of ransomware on your business. Information can be restored back to its original state and allows an infected machine to be returned to any point in time prior to the attack – just like going back in time!
With available solutions such as cloud data backup, managed firewalls, and enhanced credit card security protection programs for your POS system, there are ways to mitigate the chances of loss. These services help to protect you, ensure a successful backup of your data, and aid in reducing the risk of loss with minimal impact to users. These services provide a way to gain access to mission critical data during and after a potential ransomware or malware attack – You are never locked out!