Cyber security experts predict it will continue during 2017. What can business and private citizens do to protect themselves online?
“Ransomware is going to continue to be a major problem and, in fact, will probably get worse in 2017.”…USA Today, Jan. 3, 2017
Anyone concerned about security and having just returned from a year’s sabbatical in the Himalayas may not have heard about ransomware. Everyone else knows that ransomware is a sophisticated denial of service attack. The victim opens an innocent looking email attachment or clicks on a link, at which point the attached malware encrypts the victim’s files. The hacker demands a ransom in exchange for (maybe) sending the encryption key to unlock the files.
2017 will see more attacks
The attacks will undoubtedly continue. Criminals go where the money is, and, according to this piece on Business Insider, an especially sophisticated ransomware strain has resulted in $325 million in ransom payments.
The ransomware business model
Ransomware has characteristics of legitimate business practices. Harriet Taylor writing for CNBC.Com points out that the hackers “business plan” employs the following:
Cyber self-protection in 2017
The USA Today piece mentioned above has some sensible advice on what everyone can do in the new year to avoid having their data kidnapped as well as to be more secure in cyberspace:
Businesses need to go a few steps further
The Department of Homeland Security also recommends a “commitment to cyber hygiene” along with best practices for protecting enterprise networks. In addition to backups, these methods include:
Should victims pay the ransom?
It is entirely up to the victim to decide whether paying the ransom is preferable to continuing the “pain” of business stoppage. However, the Department of Homeland Security cites “serious risks” to consider before paying a ransom demand:
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