Ransomware is not a new development. While it may appear as though it began around the same time as the internet, it has existed since the days of floppy disks.
Here’s a brief look at ransomware’s early days and some timely tips to help your business stay safe in the present.
A Short History of Ransomware
Back in 1989, a Harvard-educated researcher snail-mailed 20,000 floppy disks to attendees of the World Health Organization’s AIDS conference. Once someone used the disk, malware-infected their computer and prevented users from accessing their files. They were then instructed to send a $189 payment to a P.O. Box in Panama to regain access. Some IT professionals were able to figure out how to decrypt the code and restore system access, while others lost their life’s work.
Although 15 years would pass before such an incident would happen again, 1989 marked the beginning of ransomware. Once the internet gained steam in 2000, ransomware evolved. E-mail was king, and the malicious cyber attacks of the time focused on sheer numbers with low ransoms.
GPCode appeared in 2004, infecting systems with code via bad website links and phishing e-mails. The hackers demanded amounts as small as $20 for the decryption key, but it still wasn’t difficult encryption to break. By the time 2006 rolled around, ransomware changed again, with the people behind Archievus beefing up their encryption. But, the orchestrators didn’t use different passwords to release computer systems.
Unfortunately, ransomware became harder to crack and tougher to dodge. In the 2010s, ransomware grew both in number and in difficulty. From Trojan WinLock to Reveton, these attacks became complex and sometimes went up for sale on the dark web.
How to Stay Safe From Ransomware Online
Through the decades of evolution, one thing about ransomware remained the same: victims were requested to pay ransomware settlements. Whether an attack occurs through an e-mail, a pop-up requesting payment to fix an infection, or exploiting vulnerabilities, there is no guarantee that hackers will relinquish control of your system.
The best thing you can do is to try to stay a step ahead of the game by using the methods below.
A web firewall is a good first defense against cyber criminals. It scans incoming and outgoing web traffic, compares connections, and assesses any risks. It closes vulnerable ports off from potential hacker access.
Automatically backup important system files and data. Schedule these backups to occur regularly and save the backups in different file formats in different locations. If an attack occurs, you can better restore your system.
Systems change; vulnerabilities are discovered, shared, and updated. New patches often come out for all manner of programs. Hackers are on the alert for easy opportunities. Don’t make it easy for them to gain access to your business. Use a program that offers automated patches to keep your system updated and out of hackers’ hands.
Take a Proactive Stance
Encrypted files, locking systems, and payment demands are all in a day’s work for an online criminal. These smart attacks can easily bring a business to a complete halt. Don’t let it happen to you. Digital security systems can help keep your business running smoothly — and on top of online security.