Are You Protected from Ransomware?

Two large municipal governments, Baltimore and Atlanta, felt the pain of ransomware this past week. While Baltimore recovered within a day, Atlanta’s woes continue after a week without computers.

Baltimore’s 911 and 311 operators switched to methods many haven’t used in decades within emergency dispatch centers. The computer aided dispatch server fell victim to ransomware early Sunday morning after a network port was left exposed to the Internet. By Monday morning, dispatchers were back online.

Poor Atlanta and its citizens are not faring very well through their ransomware attack. The New York Times’ article entitled “A Cyberattack Hobbles Atlanta, and Security Experts Shudder” sums up the situation well. While their 911 systems were not affected, other important services took a step back in time, while others simply cannot function. “The Atlanta Municipal Court has been unable to validate warrants. Police officers have been writing reports by hand. The city has stopped taking employment applications.” All of these systems are being held ransom for $51,000.

We’ve had quite a few customers walk through the door with similar ransomware infections. The malicious software changes the names of files and/or encrypts the files. A message directs the user of the computer to send money in the form of a money order or cyber-currency such as Bitcoin. Once the hackers receive the funds, they send a key to de-crypt the files.

Often, there is a time limit to do this. Some ransomware permanently encrypts the files after the deadline. Others increase the ransom. Either way, its never a guarantee that these criminals will actually de-crypt your data after their pay off.

So, what can you do to avoid losing your photographs, music, videos, letters, etc.?

Digital Age Solution implements a multi-layered approach to protecting data.  Our most secure networks actively block known threats and suspicious activity. The security software we employ as a service blocks the encryption of files. If the hacker finds a way to bypass that protection, our back-up software maintains infinite versions of our customers’ backed-up data. Once we clean a system, we can roll back to a version before the encryption.

The Digital Age Solution Safe & Secure Services team reported four attempts on customers within the past seven days. The customers ranged from a two-person office to a very large local business serving the entire Mid-Atlantic region. The attempts were made on PCs and Macs.

Hackers work diligently to circumvent every road block.

Digital Age Solution employs security experts and analysts to keep ahead of the criminals and anticipate their next moves.

Hackers attempt to employ Ransomware Attacks on our customers networks on a regular basis.

Digital Age Solution actively monitors for these attacks and takes immediate action to keep customers’ data and networks safe. Like all of our services, we offer this service for home and corporate users.

To find out more about Digital Age Solution’s Safe & Secure Services by calling 301-662-7386.

Michael Kuster opened Digital Age Solution in 2005 after managing Information Technology for various government agencies for many years. Before taking on this venture full-time, he operated a web site design and hosting company, KusterNet, for a decade. After being asked by web site customers to manage and maintain their computers, KusterNet became Digital Age Solution.

Mike maintains a hands-on, active role in the management and delivery of service to customers at Digital Age Solution. Rather than sitting behind a desk, he can often be found running cable on telephone poles, fixing computers on-site, and providing one-on-one support to customers.

Mike lives in Walkersville, Maryland with his wife and three children. He actively serves as a volunteer and board member for several non-profits including 4-H, Federated Charities, and the Town of Walkersville.