Crime does pay, and for cybercriminals, they make it a business. It’s no wonder IT support in Houston is in high demand. Businesses of all sizes and industries need protection from security threats, particularly ransomware which has proven to be quite lucrative.
Ransomware is popular because it’s a low-risk, high-return endeavor for cybercriminals. They can simply hack devices or networks from afar, take these as virtual hostages, and lock out rightful users. To get back access, the users have to pay a ransom; otherwise, their data will be deleted for good and their smartphones will be rendered useless.
Cybercriminals involved in ransomware are hard to track because they perform their activities remotely. Victims can’t point out a suspect from a police lineup because a face-to-face interaction never takes place.
Where Ransomware Began
According to Symantec, a global leader in cybersecurity, ransomware isn’t as new as people think it is. It goes way back to 1989 when the AIDS Trojan— also referred to as the PC Cyborg virus— first appeared. Surprisingly, it wasn’t created by a programmer, but by a biologist named Joseph Popp. At the AIDS conference hosted by the World Health Organization, he gave away 20,000 infected floppy disks labeled “AIDS Information – Introductory Diskettes” to unsuspecting attendees.
Once the disk is inserted in a computer drive, the AIDS Trojan would be executed. It would then count the number of times that computer was booted, and once it reached 90, the malicious program would encrypt the file names in the C drive and hide the directories. The only way to regain access was for the user to send $189 to PC Cyborg’s offshore PO Box.
Lucky for victims back then, the AIDS Trojan was easy to defeat. They didn’t need to pay the ransom because the encrypted file names were quickly decrypted by counter programs.
Where Ransomware Is Now
Nowadays, ransomware is more sophisticated and less obvious. It’s also no longer a one-man show. Currently, ransomware is a thriving industry with different operators competing over customers for the biggest profits. Money travels not in cash, but in Bitcoins, which leave no tracks.
From 2014 to 2016, a form of ransomware called CryptoWall managed to extort more than $18 million in total from its victims. FBI had to issue a warning against CryptoWall because of the financial losses it generated.
When large organizations are attacked, the ransom goes as high as $50,000— a far cry from Popp’s $189 ransom. To make matters worse, establishments providing critical services like hospitals are targeted because cybercriminals know they have no choice but to pay up.
Recognizing the dangers, security companies— Symantec included— listed ransomware as one of the biggest threats of 2016. At this scale, organizations would need the help of IT support in Houston to fight off attacks and mitigate risks.
What You Can Do
Cybercriminals are always one step ahead, so you have to partner with a third-party service provider that can keep up. Fortunately, we at ICS are here to the rescue. As a leading provider of IT support in Houston, we have a proven record highly satisfied clients. Be part of that list. Contact us today to learn more about us or to ask for a free assessment.