Ransomware Threat Grows for Small Businesses

Since we know everyone who gets our e-newsletter consumes every single word with gusto, you will have noticed we did an article about ransomware last month. Unfortunately small businesses are increasingly targeted by these cyber-criminals, so we felt it important to emphasize the danger with another article on the topic.

As you’ll remember, ransomware is a type of malicious software that blocks access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid. Though there are many of these evil malware programs proliferating throughout the world, some of them have become notorious enough to have their own names; CryptoWall and TorrentLocker are two such examples. Being identifiable means, we are seeing some statistics about these particular ransomware programs that probably point to broader trends. Recently, security-software vendor Trend Micro shared some findings in a company blog:

  • Just between the months of March and August 2014, CryptoWall infected 625,000 computer systems (and no telling how many since then!), “earning” the creators of this malware more than $1 million.
  • In the past, consumers were the main targets of ransomware, but now it’s small and midsized businesses (SMBs). In June and July of this year, 67% of the clicks on CryptoWall-related links were from small businesses. Another 17% came from large enterprises.
  • More than 40 percent of clicks on TorrentLocker-related URLs during June and July also came from SMBs, with an additional 10-plus percent coming from larger companies.

The purveyors of TorrentLocker and CryptoWall are also using clever social engineering tactics against small business owners—leveraging phony notifications from postal services, telecommunications and utility companies, and governmental bodies to trick SMB victims. Trend Micro also reports that ransomware crooks are even disguising malware-infected emails as job-seeker resumes’ or business orders.

Since small businesses are clearly being targeted, it’s going to be up to those company owners to be vigilant and also stress the danger of ransomware to employees. To reiterate some of the precautions against this malware that we shared last month:

  • Don’t open a file or click on a link you don’t know for certain.
  • Back-up your data … outside your system.
  • Keep your anti-malware software fully operational and updated.

And of course, businesses that are part of the SynchroNet Way are encouraged to give us a call about strategies that can—and are— being deployed against ransomware … as well as other types of cyber threats. And rest assured that we will do everything in our power to help keep your systems up and running and your data accessible and safe.