Have you ever found yourself in a hostage situation? If you’re not careful with your email security, you may need to pay a ransom sooner or later. Think you’ll pull some Liam Neesom moves and take out the kidnappers? Think again. Even the Sheriff’s Office of Dickson County, Tennessee had to pay off a ransom.
While we’re confident your local sheriff (and Liam Neesom) will prevail over the bad guys in a ransom situation involving a person, there’s not a whole lot they – or anyone else – can do if it’s your computer that’s being held ransom.
What is ransomware?
Ransomware is the name given to malicious software that locks up all the data on your computer unless you pay a ransom to the hackers that are holding your data hostage. Two of the most common kinds of ransomware are called CryptoLocker or the bigger and badder CryptoWall.
Once the ransomware gets on your computer, you’re usually prompted with a method of how to pay the hackers to get your files back… and that’s it. The only way to get the ransomware off your computer and get your data back is to pay off the kidnappers – uh, datanappers? – and wait for them to release your data.
How do you get it on your computer?
If you’re the average worker, you spend something like 11 hours a week managing your email. You only need to slip up one time to have your computer infected with ransomware. And it’s easy to slip up. Think of how you spend time on your email: You’re usually probably multitasking or in a hurry. If you rush just a little too much, you might get infected.
Don’t think it will happen to you? Go talk to the Sheriff’s Office of Dickson County, Tennessee. They opted to pay the ransom after having over 72,000 files held captive. Why did they pay the ransom? As the agency’s IT director pointed out, the files included “every sort of document that you could develop in an investigation.”
The city of Detroit, on the other hand, opted not to pay its hackers when it fell prey to ransomware this past November. The Mayor of Detroit decided the database taken captive wasn’t important enough to merit paying the $803,500 ransom being requested.
Who sends ransomware?
Here’s the weird part: you may imagine some kid in his mom’s basement sending out emails delivering ransomware, but you’d be wrong. Those emails are sent out by professionals. A recent article in the New York Times went into detail about how hackers who send out ransomware conduct business. The author’s mother submitted a $500 payment to the hackers who owned the ransomware on her computer. Because it was a day late, she missed the deadline she was given meaning the new charge would be $1,000. After explaining why the payment was late, the hackers ended up accepting it and not charging her additional money.
Why? These guys are professionals. They want to maintain a good reputation so that other people who get infected with their ransomware trust that when they make the payment, they will have their files back. Try to get your head around that: We live in a world where hackers can act with such impunity that they care about their reputation with normal Joe Schmos.
Protect your data.
Okay, so what are you to do? Since you’re likely to slip up and click a malicious email link sooner or later, you need to make sure that your email security provider can go toe-to-toe with these professional hackers. Sendio’s Email Security Gateway™ keeps all malicious email out of your inbox, so you can have peace of mind that you won’t have to try to go all Liam Neesom on some hackers holding your data hostage.