It seems you can’t turn on the news these days without hearing about a security breach at a major organization. Often, it involves a compromise of data that belongs to you and me if we happen to be so lucky as to have done business with the company in the recent past. If companies such as Anthem, Target, Home Depot, and TJ Maxx, who likely spend millions on their online security, can be duped by on-line predators, it stands to reason that millions of small business people around the country find it easy to pray for these criminals. The newest threat is called ransomware. This virus infects a company’s systems and takes its data hostage. The criminals release the data back to the company after the company pays a ransom, which can be in the thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars. Though ransomware has been around for many years, there has been a recent explosion of new strains of this “virus.” In fact, a recent report from Symantec states that ransomware attacks quadrupled in the first quarter of 2016. However, necessity being the mother of invention, we are seeing many more IT service providers coming out with monitoring software that guards against these attacks. The cost of outsourcing this protection can easily pay for itself, not to mention help you sleep easier.
One segment of business getting hit hard by ransomware is the hospital industry. Hollywood
Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles recently paid over $16,000 for the return of its data. Hospital systems have come to a veritable stand-still, severely reducing the quality of care given to their patients. More recently, criminals infected Methodist Hospital in Henderson, Kentucky with the “Locky” strain which immediately infected multiple systems within its network. The ransom requested in this case was much less than the amount paid by Hollywood Presbyterian. However, as these attacks become more successful, the perpetrators will be encouraged to continue.