It’s A Scary Time For Your Company’s Systems And Data

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

We sent out an email a few days ago alerting folks to a new and particularly nasty virus that’s making the rounds. It’s called CryptoLocker and, if your systems get infected with this particular kind of “ransomware,” it is, frankly, a nightmare.

CryptoLocker scans your system and looks for all of your file storage locations – your local C: drive, any USB thumb or external drives, and even network shares (if you save files on your S: drive, for example).

It then encrypts every file it finds using a sophisticated, spy-level type of encryption. Your files – Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc. – all become unusable.

Pay up, or else
You’ll then get a pop up on your system, letting you know that your personal files are encrypted, and if you want the key to unlock them, you’ll need to pay the cyber crooks to get it. The ransom (thus, the term “ransomware”) is anywhere from $300 on up. And, there’s a deadline – 72 to 100 hours – after which, the key to your files is destroyed, and you’re simply out of luck.

This nasty virus is spread by opening email attachments or through other “social engineering” means.

Spam/virus filtering are generally aware of the threat and actively block emails that contain elements of this and other malware.

We suggest notifying your employees immediately of this new virus and making sure everyone is following some basic preventive measures:

  • Do not click on attachments in emails from someone you don’t know or companies from which you haven’t expressed interest in receiving information.
  • Do not click on links, advertisements or pictures that pop up on your screen when visiting other websites.
  • Do not engage in social media games or click on links that appear on social media platforms.

The virus emails come in the form of a shipping notice from UPS or FedEx. It is obviously fake, but the scammers make it look very real.

Why aren’t you backing up your data?
I’ve been in the IT business for nearly 27 years and I can say I’ve pretty much seen it all. But I’m still astounded when we run across a business owner who isn’t backing up their data.

Studies show that only six out of every 10 people back up their computer files. The 40% that don’t said that it was because they didn’t think they needed to.

According to a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers, 70% of small businesses that suffer a significant data loss go out of business within a year.

These ransomware and other destructive viruses are becoming more and more prevalent. We work hard to keep your systems safe and protected, but no antivirus software catches 100% of everything.

More than ever, it is vitally important that your business have a solid backup system that is managed, monitored and tested. Too many times we’ve gone in to help a new client who is in the middle of a disaster, only to find out they were religiously changing tapes in a system that hadn’t successfully ran a backup in months – or years.