Ransomware thieves sure know how to pick their victims—institutions that store loads of highly critical data that they need on a daily basis, that without—even just 24 hours without—can have crippling effects. This form of cybercrime is growing by leaps and bounds.

11DRecently a ransomware attacker struck the network of the University of Calgary. An article at arstechnica.com says that the institution’s IT experts have made some headway in isolating the ransomware infection and making some restoration progress.

Why not just pay the thief and get the “key” back to the scrambled data? Because there is never any guarantee that these thieves will provide the cyber key after they are paid the ransom. And even when they do provide this key, there’s no guarantee it will release all of the hijacked data, but only some of it.

“Ransomware attacks and the payment of ransoms are becoming increasingly common around the world,” says a statement out of the arstechnica.com report. Decrypting the scrambled data “is time-consuming and must be performed with care,” continues the report. “A great deal of work is still required by IT to ensure all affected systems are operational again,” and this process requires patience.

The University of Calgary is a research institution that absolutely cannot afford to lose its data, points out the university’s vice president, Linda Dalgetty, in an article from The Globe. She explains, “We are conducting world class research daily and we don’t know what we don’t know in terms of who’s been impacted and the last thing we want to do is lose someone’s life’s work.”

Ransomware crimes have become so commonplace that some thieves have set up call centers for victims who don’t know how to navigate their data hostage situations, such as how to pay in bitcoins—the highly preferred payment methods by the criminals.

Often, the thief imposes a deadline for the payment, and if it’s not met by that deadline, the payment escalates.

This is actually really stupid. Meaning, if the last thing anyone wants to do is lose someone’s life’s work, then BACK IT UP. That’s “Data 101”.

Robert Siciliano CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com, personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video.

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