The Emotional Impact of Ransomware: What It Feels Like to Be A Victim
Tom started his day by sitting down and eating breakfast with his wife and two kids. As he eats, he considers how fortunate he is to have finally succeeded in turning his passion into a successful business. It has taken a lot of personal sacrifice to follow his vision, but he’s finally happy, and business is booming!
Breakfast done, Tom drops his kids off at school on his way to the office. He pulls his laptop out of his briefcase, plugs it in, turns it on. But, instead of his usual Windows sign-in screen, Tom sees a message that instantly makes his blood freeze in his veins.
“Ooops, your files have been encrypted!”
Tom’s heart plummets into his stomach. Disbelief. Despair. Rage. He experiences an intense range of motions in a matter of seconds. He’s worked so hard to build this company – put so much on the line to make it successful – and now this?! How is his business going to be able to recover from this? If it doesn’t, what is he going to tell his wife? They’ll lose everything – the house, the cars… he could have to declare bankruptcy!
Tom reads the message again. The hackers say that they have deleted his backup files and are demanding Bitcoin to decrypt his main files. If he doesn’t want to lose everything, he has 24 hours to pay up. Another wave of fear/despair rushes through him. Tom’s not even sure how to buy Bitcoin! Does he just order it online or something? And, if he pays up, is that any guarantee that the hackers will actually decrypt the files? What’s to stop them from demanding more once the first payment goes through?
As he’s trying to sort this out, Tom’s office line and his cell phone start to ring. It soon becomes clear that this message isn’t just appearing on his laptop – his company’s entire server network has been encrypted!
Tom puts his head in his hands. He feels hopeless, frustrated, defeated. What can he possibly do next?
The Impact of Ransomware is More than Just Financial
Can you imagine being in Tom’s shoes? The frustration, the anger, the anxiety of being a business owner with, like Tom, everything on the line and everything to lose? The fear that must grip a business owner who’s been attacked is almost incomprehensible (unless you’ve lived it). And imagine feeling that your privacy has been invaded, too! After all, Microsoft’s research says that cybercriminals spend about 146 days in your network before they’re detected or they make their move.
Then there’s your brand’s reputation to consider – you’ve been the target of a ransomware attack. Now you need to let your customers know that their data might have been compromised. Which is bound to get out, so you’ll need to worry about doing damage control with the media, too. And, the trust, reliability, and accountability that you’ve worked so hard to build is, most likely gone, so you’ll have to start strategizing on how you’re going to build your reputation back.
The impact of ransomware is more than just financial, although that is a concern, too. For business owners, these financial costs include the cost of having to buy Bitcoin or other cryptocurrency, settling any potential lawsuits that could come out of the ordeal, paying a marketing team to help you regain your brand image, and paying an IT company to secure your system from further attacks.
Overall, there’s no doubt that the impact of finding yourself a victim of ransomware is devastating. So, what are the steps to follow if you find yourself in this situation?
What to do When You’re a Victim of a Ransomware Attack?
Step 1: Alert your local authorities.
Step 2: Contact an IT company, like ProServeIT, who specializes in ransomware and can help you navigate the tricky situations you’re going to come across as you try and regain your data.
Step 3: Shut down the infected computer and disconnect it from the network, so it doesn’t infect other computers in your organization.
Step 4: Decide if you’re going to pay the ransom.
Consider if you’ve got all your data backed up elsewhere. If you do, don’t pay the ransom, and instead, fail over to your backup system, or use the data from the last back-up and start over. If you follow this route, make sure that you protect your new data so the hackers can’t encrypt this data, too. If needed, an IT company can help you put up stronger defenses.
If you do decide to pay the ransom, remember that Bitcoin takes 3-4 business days to purchase, so it’ll take some time to acquire. It should be noted that paying the ransom is not often recommended by experts, because there is a high likelihood that the hackers may not give you the decryption key, or they could lock you out again in the future and demand more money.
Step 5: Invest in tools and technology that can prevent this in the future.
As a Microsoft Gold partner, ProServeIT knows that Microsoft takes security very seriously. They invest over $1 billion every year on keeping their infrastructure secure, and they’re constantly researching new ways to make their products better at keeping your organization safe from ransomware, other malware or viruses. For instance, Office 365 has a number of native security features built in, like Multi-Factor Authentication and Advanced Threat Protection, which are often available as a part of the license you choose.
Need some help deciding what’s the best route to take to protect yourself from ransomware? Talk to ProServeIT today and our experts can advise you on your technical options.
Tom’s Story Isn’t Fictional – We’ve Seen Firsthand the Impact of Ransomware!
Tom’s story is a true story, taken from one of ProServeIT’s clients who requested that we keep their name out of this article. “Tom” is based off a real CEO, whose 30-person company was recently targeted by a ransomware attack. Tom called ProServeIT in a panic because he lived the scenario that we described above. He didn’t know how to buy Bitcoin, he didn’t know what to do to recover his files, and he was desperate to save his business.
ProServeIT walked Tom through the process of purchasing Bitcoin to pay the ransom. Then, after Tom’s files were unlocked, we went to work in Tom’s server environment. Our experts did a thorough cleaning of all malicious activity that was found, then we added additional hardware and software security (like firewalls, anti-malware and anti-virus) in place to further reduce the risk of exposure.
Tom has spent close to $100,000 to recover from this ransomware attack to date, and there are more financial implications that he‘s facing. It’s quite likely that he’ll be looking at $250,000 in costs when all’s said and done. And, while significant to him and his business, Tom’s costs are just a drop in the bucket for the global recovery landscape; as this article shows, global ransomware costs in 2017 exceeded $5 billion USD.
Don’t Let Ransomware Take Over – We Can Help!
Have you been a victim of ransomware in the past and want to make sure you’re protected going forward? Our experts can provide you with customized guidance and suggestions. Want to prevent this from happening to you in the first place? We can assist with that, too!
Whether you need backup solutions, disaster recovery solutions, or just some ideas on how to protect your organization, ProServeIT is here to help. Whatever it takes to help protect your organization from ransomware attacks, ProServeIT has the experience. Contact us today!