Skip to Content

The Threat of Ransomware is Real and Growing

Ransomware-2If you've been reading a lot of articles about the dangers of ransomware and thinking it won't happen to you, it's time to pay attention.

Ransomware is a form of malware in which rogue software code effectively holds a user's computer hostage until a "ransom" fee is paid. As you’ve almost certainly seen in the news lately, ransomware has emerged as a major threat to individuals and businesses alike. It has become a lucrative option for cyber extortionists. When the malware is run, it locks victim’s files and allows criminals to demand payment to release them.

Tribute customer, Jeff Scheininger, president of New Jersey based Flexline, Inc., the largest resource for metal hose assemblies in the northeast, wants you to know that it's a very real and serious problem. He's telling his story so that business organizations understand that it can happen to them.

They were recently attacked with a ransomware virus realistically disguised as a normal Microsoft update. The update popped up on the task bar and appeared to be just a routine Microsoft update.

Before downloading, Flexline staff investigated the link by pasting it into Google to check its legitimacy. Unfortunately, the developer of this particular ransomware had also created a fake Microsoft page, making the link look legitimate.

Once the link was clicked, the PC was immediately infected and locked down and the demand for ransom appeared. Everything that was connected to that PC and running on Windows software became infected as well, including most of the programs that they used to run the business. Luckily, an employee rushed to unplug Jeff's PC, which saved it from infection.

All of their PC's were locked down and they were unable to use or access any of their files or Goldmine, Excel, or Word programs. The ransomware virus ran through their entire network and infected every PC connected to it. Investigation by the FBI determined that the ransomware originated in Romania.

FLEXLINEScheininger was not about to pay the ransom to get the virus removed and they found that several things were in their favor, enabling them to restore most of their programs and conduct business again. Upon investigating the problem of ransomware and talking with the FBI, he found the percentage of businesses that get their data back upon paying the ransom is very low.

Flexline was able to run their ERP business management software, the Tribute Software System, because it is Unix-based and on a separate server and therefore remained uninfected by the malware.

And timing is everything - they had just purchased a new server and their IT firm was able to take the hard drives from the old one and restore their programs and information. Also, after Hurricane Katrina, they invested in Outlook 365, so their cloud-based email program was still accessible.

The PC that was originally infected was scrubbed clean and everything that was stored on it was lost. Twenty-five years of information on that PC that was not transferred to a server on the network was gone. The mistake was a costly one for Flexline and one that insurance did not cover. Scheininger instituted strict business processes to ensure that proper backup procedures and security measures were in effect from then on.

Organizations of all types and sizes have been impacted, but small businesses are particularly vulnerable to attacks. Ransomware is on the rise. A recent study conducted by security software vendor McAfee Labs identified more than 4 million samples of ransomware in Q2 of 2015 alone.

Datto, our data protection partner, has a series of excellent articles on ransomware and they are definitely worth the time to read.

How Ransomware is Spread - Beware of MS Office, Adobe and picture files from outside sources

Common Types of Ransomware - How they take advantage of users and hold your data hostage

How to Protect Yourself Against Ransomware - Great tips on how to protect your business

Download Datto's free ebook - The business guide to Ransomware

3Delta Systems, our secure payment solutions provider, also has a useful article on cyber breaches titled Expect Breaches - Win the Game.

Check out Symantec's 2016 Internet Security Report to learn how cyber criminals are threatening our security. Click the link to download the report.

Don't wait until you fall prey to cyber-criminals, ensure your data is protected today.  If you need an IT services firm, our partner, Harland Technology Services, has a network of highly qualified technicians across the nation.

+++

 Tribute, Inc. is a provider of business management software for industrial distributors who provide engineering, design and fabrication services for their customers in the motion control, automation, and fluid power industries. For more information about TrulinX, our Windows-based product designed specifically for complex fabrication projects, click here.