“Bzzz bzzz bzzz…”
“Gotta smack it to stop it”, the not-yet-awake thought floods Tim’s mind.
“Presentation at 10:00 today” Now this new, more urgent thought hits him like a runaway train
and he jumps out of bed.
Hastily, he throws on his clothes and grabs his coffee. He has to run through his notes and slides one last time before the big meeting in just a few hours.
Skirting to his laptop, he turns it on, and after a moment, he is greeted by the following message with the force of a ton of bricks:
“Hi! Your files have just been taken ransom with a really strong form of encryption. If you ever want to see your data again, please create a Bitcoin wallet and pay your unlock fee
of 1 BTC within 48 hrs. After you have paid, we will unlock the files with the correlating
key. Don’t attempt to unlock the files yourself, It’s impossible.”
“…Files gone…Computer attacked…What the heck is a Bitcoin wallet and how do I even open an account..?!”
He stares at his screen for a moment longer in semi-horror as the reality sets in – every file and application have been impenetrably encrypted… Including banking information. And family pictures…. And today’s presentation. Everybody is a target.
There are millions of “Tims” out there – Innocent people who have been hit with the latest, and quite possibly the most damaging kind of malware there is – Ransomware. And every day more people, businesses and organizations are finding out just how damaging a Ransomware attack can be.
If this past month alone teaches us anything, it’s that ransomware can hit anyone and that no
one is immune. Some notable targets this month included:
Hospitals – Hospitals are turning out to be a hacker’s target dejour – Hollywood Presbyterian
Medical Center in Los Angeles, Methodist Hospital in Henderson, KY. and MedStar in Maryland, among others were all hit with crippling ransomware. Hospitals are an easy target – lost records can mean dying patients and piling up lawsuits. Understandably, hospitals are quick to pay up if they aren’t properly protected.
Utilities – The Board of Water and Lights of Lansing, MI found their network held hostage.
No client information was stolen as that was thankfully being handled by a third party but they were forced to partially shut down operations and company email systems were affected as well.
The US House of Representatives – Not even the government is safe where ransomware is
concerned. According to leaked documents, it seems that the House email system came under
attack from emails containing ransomware-filled links, says techcrunch and other sources.
Home users – When we say that ransomware is everywhere, we mean it.
According to famed computer forum BleepingComputer.com, in just two weeks of this past May, no less than 12 new Ransomware variants were found, including Zyklon Locker, 8Lock8, CryptoHitman which is based on the popular video game “Hitman”, Shijun, which specifically targets Chinese users and then the double whammy of Peyta and Mischa. When Peyta is initially executed, it checks to see if it can get admin access to your computer. If it can’t, it installs Mischa which encrypts files.
So many new variants are released every week that it’s daunting to even keep up with them!
And if you shop, surf, work, or use email online, you’re potentially at risk.
This is why educating yourself about the risk is so important. Ransomware is a problem that is truly all over and might just be coming for you next.
And sadly, when it comes to ransomware, once you’re locked out, there isn’t a whole lot you can do to remove the encryption, short of paying the ransom fee, that is.
Do you really feel like paying hundreds to thousands of dollars for something you already own?! We didn’t think so.
So here is what you can do – You can learn as much as possible about the risk and and what
you can do to lower your own risk factors.
Prevention is the very best tool there is to keeping ransomware away – and you can and should set yourself up with the very best prevention
methods. Don’t let what happened to our buddy Tim, The House of Representatives and
Hollywood Medical Center happen to you.
Here at ZoneAlarm were in for the long haul, helping you protect your digital security all throughout the year.