Imagine being locked out of your own files and the only way to access them is by paying someone you don’t know. This was the reality one Austin business had to face.
The Davis Group, a media planning company, received an email that carried a contaminated attachment. After clicking the attachment, all the files on their network would not open. A message that popped up on the screen said the only way to gain access to them was to pay $500 in the next 98 hours.
“All of your files were protected by a strong encryption with RSA-2048 using CryptoWall 3.0,” the message said.
Cryptowall is form of ransomware that, according to the FBI, is the most current and significant threat targeting U.S. individuals and businesses. Since 2014, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center received 992 CryptoWall-related complaints. Businesses lost over $18 million.
The malware infects your computer when the user clicks on an infected link, opens an infected email, downloads an infected file or visits an infected website. Cryptowall then encrypts your files so that you can’t read them. It will then demand a ransom payout, usually by bitcoin, that can range from $200 to $10,000.
The message the Davis Group received warned them that no other solution was possible beside payment.
“Alas, if you do not take the necessary measures for the specified time then the conditions for obtaining the private key will be changed. If you really value your data, then we suggest you do not waste valuable time searching for other solutions because they do not exist,” the message said.
Although the Davis Group didn’t pay up, they didn’t lose every file. The company backed up all of their information. It’s that practice the company’s IT manager said resulted in the business losing only 1% of their files.
The bad news for businesses is if you get the virus, you’ll have to rebuild your computer. In addition, you may have to pricey services like network mitigation, network countermeasures, loss of productivity, legal fees, and IT services.
To keep your files and information for your business safe, BBB offers these tips:
Back up all important information. Although you’ll have to rebuild a computer, ensuring critical data is backed up and stored is the key.
Keep up to date firewalls and antivirus software. Having these programs on your computer is important to keep out any possible virus that can steal valuable information.
Enable pop-up blockers. Pop-ups can be used to infect your computer if they are clicked on.
Be cautious. Never click on a link or attachment that you don’t recognize. If you see an email you don’t recognize, delete it.