It can be tempting to dismiss the doom and gloom warnings of ransomware as just a tool to sell security services. We have all seen the headlines, and as there is often no follow up story, we assume everything is OK. When it happens to larger companies, they seem to be able to carry on with their business, once the shock of the breach subsides, and the somehow restore their networks.
What about the small companies you don’t hear about? Those that don’t have current back-ups. Or try to pay a ransom, only to find that the decryption key doesn’t work. Sometimes the company may decide to shut the doors for good.
Earlier this year, ZDNet reported an Arkansas-based telemarketing firm sent home over 300 employees and told them to find new jobs. The reason: their IT recovery efforts didn't go according to plan following a ransomware incident that took place at the start of October 2019.
The Heritage Company suffered the attack in October of 2019, and since then, have been unsuccessfully trying to get back up and running. In a letter to employees, Sandra Franecke, the company's CEO, wrote that “our Heritage servers were attacked by malicious software that basically 'held us hostage for ransom' and we were forced to pay the crooks to get the 'key' just to get our systems back up and running. Since then, IT has been doing everything they can to bring all our systems back up, but they still have quite a long way to go. Also, since then, I have been doing my utmost best to keep our doors open, even going as far as paying your wages from my own money to keep us going until we could recoup what we lost due to the cyber attack.”
Franecke goes on in her letter that she hopes to re-open, but many employees have filed for unemployment insurance. The case of a small business closing its doors for good because of ransomware isn’t just an isolated case. In April 2019, doctors at a medical practice office in Michigan decided to shut down their business and retire one year ahead of schedule, rather than deal with the fallout from a ransomware infection. Another medical office, based in Simi Valley, California, reached the same conclusion in September 2019, shutting down all operations after they were infected with ransomware a month before and lacked the funds to pay the ransom.
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