Ransomware revisited: As attacks worsen, tried-and-true defenses falter

Beef? Beef?!

It’s come to this: a ransomware attack has come between me and my Wendy’s quarter pounder! As much as I’d like to say that there’s nothing to this problem for my favorite fast food lunch, I can’t. A ransomware attack on the world’s largest meat processor, JBS, forced nine US beef plants to close their doors on June 1.

It’s not a laughing matter. If major companies such as JBS and Colonial pipeline can get hammered by ransomware, there’s nothing stopping a low-life hacker from using Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) to take your business out.

Yes, RaaS is a real thing. RaaS attacks are happening at this very moment and ransomware has become the security problem of our day. Indeed, even as I write this story, the US Department of Justice has elevated ransomware investigations to a similar priority as terrorism.

That’s why I’m revisiting the topic, even though I recently explained what you can do to avoid ransomware. Another reason, though, is because one of the traditional easy ways to fight the problem—keeping current backups—doesn’t work that well anymore.

Back when ransomware first showed up, hackers would lock down systems by encrypting your files and then demanding a ransom, almost always in Bitcoin, for the decryption key. The key didn’t always work—spoiler alert: they still don’t—but if you had a current backup, you could thumb your nose at the crooks. You’d just clean up your systems, restore from your backups, and be back to work over the weekend.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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