Is your company prepared for a ransomware attack? Security guru Jeffrey Redding covers this important topic.

Ransomware. If you’ve been following the news, you’ve probably heard this term tossed around. Ransomware has emerged as a grave threat for businesses, governments, and other organizations. Hackers can now take files, data, and software systems hostage, forcing companies to pay a ransom or else they may lose their assets. Jeffrey Redding, Chicago security expert, is going to dive into this grave threat.

“Undoubtedly, ransomware is one of the most serious cybersecurity threats that organizations face today,” Jeffrey Redding says. “In Chicago, companies like Boeing must secure vast amounts of data. Should this data be destroyed or stolen, it could cause immense problems. With ransomware, hackers can essentially take data hostage, forcing you to negotiate.”

Ransomware is a form of malware. The software will encrypt your files, making them all but impossible to access. If you want to access your files and data, you’ll need the hackers to provide the keys or software needed to unlock them. And most hackers will work with you, assuming you’re willing to meet their demands.

“Think of a hostage scene in a movie or TV show,” Jeffrey Redding, Chicago resident says, “ransomware works essentially the same way, except instead of holding people hostage, ransomware takes data and digital assets hostage.”

In recent weeks, the United States faced gasoline shortages because Colonial Pipeline, a pipeline company that supplies fuel across the east and southeast, was forced to shut down after a ransomware attack. In this case, Colonial Pipeline quickly paid up, sending the hackers millions of dollars. And the hackers were good to their word, providing software to decrypt files.

Unfortunately, however, the decryption software required a lot of time to unlock the files. This forced the company to shut down the pipeline for several days, which caused a run on gas stations and resulted in fuel shortages.

“The Solarwinds hack brought ransomware into the spotlight, but it was the first major ransomware attack, and it probably won’t be the last major attack either. Companies need to harden their systems, and to back up as much data as possible as well.”

Jeffrey Redding Talks About Cryptocurrency Payments

So if you find yourself the victim of ransomware and decide to pay off the hackers, how do you go about making payments? In the past, one of the bigger hurdles for hackers was getting paid and then getting away. Now, hackers can demand hard-to-track cryptocurrency payments.

“Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies certainly are interesting financial assets and I know some investors have made a lot of money with them,” Jeffrey Redding of Chicago says. “Unfortunately, however, cryptocurrencies are making ransomware attacks easier to pull off. Currently, these currencies are all but untraceable.”

If you sent money to someone’s bank account, you might be able to track them down and perhaps could work with authorities to arrest them. With cryptocurrencies, you’ll likely never find out who accepted the payment. This makes them ideal for ransom situations.