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A Different Kind of Disaster

By now you’ve heard the story of the Baltimore-based hospital system whose computer network was attacked recently by so-called “ransomware.” Large portions of their data, including vital patient records, were hijacked and encrypted, pending the payment of a “ransom” to overseas hackers.

Another hospital in California faced a similar situation, and an airport in California had to shut down temporarily because hackers penetrated their – wait for it – Windows 95 operating system.

I’m no IT guy, but I do deal with business owners every single day, and I care about helping them avoid any kind of disaster, even the kind we can’t fix.  If you’re one of them, you need to be aware of this and get with your IT people to make sure you’re protected.

Back to the ransomware: the most prevalent version is called Cryptowall, and it’s responsible for more than 400,000 infections worldwide. These offshore miscreants lock down your own data until they’re paid a sizable sum in Bitcoins, the untraceable currency of the online realm. In most cases, they’re honest crooks … paying the ransom does result in getting your data unlocked, and the firm is back in business. Back in business at an average cost of $9,000, not including the incalculable damage to your reputation.

Can your company afford that, or worse, afford to be without your own data? Of course not. But that’s exactly the disaster you’re courting when this is left unaddressed. IT pros tell me that the solution usually comes down to multiple layers of protection, as in not just relying on out-of-the-box anti-virus software.

If you don’t have a plan in place to update all your software regularly, and to have IT professionals (not the guy in accounting who knows how to re-boot your server) assess your exposure to security threats, you’re whistling past a very expensive graveyard.

Mike Popowski is President of PBI Restorations. Reach him at