ransomeware

Move Over Ransomware – Here Comes Crypto-Jacking

Just when you feel like you’ve heard about all the cyber threats and attacks that can compromise your digital technology, you learn that hackers have discovered new methods of intrusion and infection.

It doesn’t just feel that way. That’s the way it is.

Don’t let our blog title mislead you, the threat, danger, and cost of ransomware still exist. It’s just that when ransomware artists realize that crypto-jacking is much easier and much more lucrative, the scammers are likely to jump on the new wave of tech crime.

The Effect of Ransomware

The average likelihood that a hacker will obtain a ransom via a ransomware attack is about three times out of 100 attacks. The current success rate for crypto-jacking is 100 out of 100.

In fact, crypto-jacking is escalating rapidly and, with the current fascination with the crypto-currency market on the rise, it is likely that the trend in cybercrime will follow. A recent report indicated that there were about 15,000 crypto-jacking alerts in May 2017. By February 2018, that number had risen to 280,000.

By now, you are probably wondering what crypto-jacking is. We certainly hope so. That’s why we are writing this blog. Here’s what you need to know.

  • Crypto-jacking does not attack your system per se. It infiltrates and enlists your devices to attack others. But this is not a case of “no harm, no foul.” Complex codes installed on your digital assets operate in the background, sending results to a server the hacker is using.
  • The codes find their way onto your system devices using tried-and-true phishing and malware techniques, i.e., by getting you to click on links in legitimate-looking emails or on infected pop-up ads on a website you are browsing.

In effect, your computer is being hijacked via old techniques, not to attack you, but to do mine cryptocurrencies from others.

The problem your system is that crypto-jacking is like a debilitating disease on your system’s devices. You can’t see it. It is not eating your lunch, but it is eating your resources. While you are enjoying your pastrami on rye, the codes are eating up your processing resources. Eventually, your digital technology will be working more for the hacker than it is for you. You probably won’t notice a thing until your computer is no longer performing wonders faster than a speeding bullet but acting like it wants to take a nap.

We want you to be informed. But we also want you to know that we’ve got your back. Tech Sentries monitors and protects your systems, even from unseen parasites like the codes running at the behest of crypto-jackers.

All we ask of you is to be steadfast in doing your part to keep yourself and other users of your system away from suspicious links and intriguing pop-up ads that may have more to offer you than advertised.

We are as concerned about your technology security as you are. Your computer system security is our business. That’s why Tech Sentries is always on duty. Contact us today to learn how we can help you “GUARD YOUR TECHNOLOGY” (843-282-2222).

Joe Thibodeau
Tech Sentries Inc
6251 Lindsey Rd.
Myrtle Beach, SC 29588
843-282-2222 Office/Fax
843-902-6885 Cell
https://www.techsentries.com

hospital ransomeware

The Frighteningly True Cost of Ransomware Part 2 – A Hospital Infected

If you were amazed at the ransomware statistics in the first article in this series, you will be stunned to discover the actual costs of several real ransomware attacks in this and the next several posts.

Dateline: Buffalo, NY

It usually takes a massive snowstorm to bring Buffalo to a crawl. On April 9, 2017, all it took was a single ransomware attack to bring the entire operating system of the Erie County Medical Center, a Tier 1 Trauma Center, to its knees. That infection affected hospital operations for over six weeks.

The Cost of Ransomware is More Than You Think

The ransom request was only $30,000. You might think that’s not bad for a hospital. Think again. The total cost of recovery exceeded $10 million. That is precisely why it is so crucial for us to warn our readers of the need to prepare for the potential of a ransomware attack. More on the ransom below.

When the attack unfolded, ransom notes began appearing on computer screens throughout the entire facility. Once the IT Department ordered all computers to be shut down, the hospital was forced to operate substantially as it did more than two decades ago. Everything from medical records to memos had to be managed by hand. The computer system belonged in the hospital. It was, in effect, disabled.

Infection, Treatment, and Recovery

  • One virus – 6,000 computers infected that had to be cleaned and restored.
  • One virus – so big that IT specialists from other hospitals, the NY State Police and the FBI were called in to assist.
  • One virus – no email communication for two weeks.
  • One virus – no electronic communication in the hospital lab and radiology department for three weeks.
  • One virus – no electronic processing of prescriptions for more than four weeks.
  • One virus – All electronic records for the 602-bed hospital had to be updated after the system was recovered.

What About the Ransom?

ransomewareWe don’t know the motives of the perpetrators. Frankly, when you are the victim, the criminals’ motivations don’t matter. What matters is the damage that they have caused. Think of, for instance, a patient in the ER with a heart attack. The cause of the attack is relatively unimportant. What matters most is that the person can regain his health and that steps are taken to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.
The hospital followed the same protocol as it would when treating its patients. Identify the problem. Fix the problem. Begin a regimen to prevent the problem from occurring again.

The hospital did not pay the $30,000 ransom. They recognized that the payment was not the priority. The priority was restoring their system to operational health. The cost of recovery was just as devastating as major surgery would be for a person without healthcare insurance – if not more.

Lessons Learned

Prevention is the only inexpensive alternative to ransomware. The staff of the hospital would likely suggest ways for us to guard against infections, but it failed to defend against infections caused by ransomware.

A ransomware attack may not cost your business $10 million, but it will have a cost. You can be sure that the expense will be commensurate with, and potentially able to destroy, your business.

Tech Sentries works diligently to keep you aware of potential dangers and how to take a few, common-sense steps to Guard Your Technology and to ensure the safety of your data and devices.

Keep up to date with us as this series continues to unfold and to reveal the realities of ransomware – and what it could cost you and your business.

We are as concerned about your computer system security as you are. Your computer system security is our business. That’s why Tech Sentries is always on duty. Contact us today to learn how we can help you “GUARD YOUR TECHNOLOGY” (843-282-2222).

Joe Thibodeau
Tech Sentries Inc
6251 Lindsey Rd.
Myrtle Beach, SC 29588
843-282-2222 Office/Fax
843-902-6885 Cell
https://www.techsentries.com

ransomeware

The Frighteningly True Cost of Ransomware Part 1

ransomewareYou’ve heard the stories. You’ve seen the movies. Someone is abducted and held for ransom. From there the plot thickens and unfolds until, at last, the ransom is paid, the hostage is returned, and the criminals are caught.

However, by now you are beginning to understand that ransom in the 21st Century deals less with holding people hostage and more with blocking access to your computer and holding your data hostage.

Of course, that will never happen to you.

Or will it?

A Dose of Reality

People who think that they will never be attacked by ransomware are living in a fantasy world. Here is what is happening in the real world. Right here. Right now.

According to a report by Malwarebytes:

  • Companies, large and small, are attacked by ransomware every 50 seconds.
  • Individuals are attacked every 10 seconds.
  • Total ransomware damage is expected to exceed $5 billion dollars this year.
    • That’s $5,000,000,000.
  • 60% of all malicious cyberattacks in 2017 were ransomware.
    •  Advertising fraud comprise another 20%.
    • Download, backdoor, botnets, and all other forms of attack combined made up the additional 20%
  •  Ransomware variations have increased by 430% in the first quarter of 2017 compared to the same period in the previous year.
    • One readily-available ransom software package releases new updates approximately every 8.4 days!
  •  71% of companies targeted by ransomware have been infected.
  • 72% of all businesses lost access to their data for 2 days or longer.
    • 96% lost an entire day’s worth of data
    • 61% lost 3 or more days’ worth
    • 32% lost 5 or more days’ worth
  • 66% of all ransomware attacks now use network file-sharing protocols to infect computers.
    • These attacks do not require you or an employee to make an error in judgment.
    • They simply attack weak passwords or other security points.
  • 75% of corporate ransom attacks infect three or more employee workstations.
    • 50% of corporate ransomware attacks infect at least 20 employee workstations.
  • The most favored variant of ransomware spreads like an infection. Once it is in your system, it spreads from device to device.

A Warning of Things to Come

There is no apparent decline in ransomware attempts. There is no reason to expect that there will be. Consider these two facts which we will embellish in a following article:

1. Ransomware has become a lucrative cybercriminal business, garnering multiple millions of ill-gotten dollars. By “business” we mean central figures operating with affiliates who split the take.
2. Ransomware has attracted amateur wannabes. These people are more likely to get caught, but that does not lessen the degree to which they can inflict damage.

Tech Sentries works diligently to keep you aware of potential dangers and how to take a few, common-sense steps to Guard Your Technology and to ensure the safety of your data and devices.

Keep up to date with us as this series continues to unfold and to reveal the realities of ransomware – and what it could cost you and your business.

We are as concerned about your computer system security as you are. Your computer system security is our business. That’s why Tech Sentries is always on duty. Contact us today to learn how we can help you “Guard Your Technology” (843-282-2222).

Joe Thibodeau
Tech Sentries Inc
6251 Lindsey Rd.
Myrtle Beach, SC 29588
843-282-2222 Office/Fax
843-902-6885 Cell
https://www.techsentries.com