In recent months there have been many cases of computer attacks by a data encoding

virus demanding a ransom for its release. The CEO of TerraSafe gives us some pointers

on protecting ourselves from this threat.

In recent months, our Company TerraSafe has handled a number of incidents where our

customers had been infected with a unique, new virus (to be precise – RansomWare) that

encrypted all the important files on your computer and then demands approx. $300 as

ransom for releasing the files and decrypting the impenetrable encryption. Recently

published data shows that some organizations paid a staggering amount of $10,000 in

exchange for “releasing” their files.

The last version of this RansomWare virus called CryptoWall – has been distributed across

the world for some months, attaching hundreds of thousands of computers. My investigations

showed that it is assumed the hackers behind writing and spreading the virus have already

made over a million dollars.

But what does this have to do with backup?

Our customers, who were infected with the virus, contacted us and we restored all their

material as of the day before the attack, meaning they received all their backed up files in

ordinary condition and ready for work, all without having to pay ransom to any hacker


More than 600 thousand computers worldwide have already been infected with this unique

and innovative virus and many businesses, as well as private users, have been damaged and

lost valuable digital material.

Files that have already been encrypted by the virus cannot be reinstated since they are

encrypted in the strongest form of encryption that cannot be easily or quickly opened. The

virus encrypts the victim’s information using a public key cryptosystem. In order to open the

encryption (decrypting), a private encryption key which can only be found on the hackers

servers is needed and the only way to get it is to pay the demanded ransom.

What do these incidents teach us?

We learn that the protection we gain from a proper, secured, daily back up system is

extremely wide-ranging and also covers irregular incidents, such as a virus uncontrollably

encrypting your information, which might cause extensive irreversible damage.

Clearly all possible measures to protect information should still be applied, including:

antivirus, firewall, backup and most important, appropriately instructing the organization’s

employees on cautiously using the computer in order to significantly reduce the chances of

getting infected by various malware. Despite all available protections, the greatest risk still

lies in the possibility that an employee will open malicious emails and press the wrong link,

thereby leading to the initial infection of the organization’s computers, meaning here the

human factor is also a key player.

Furthermore, it is extremely important to correctly and professionally plan the data saving

history (how far back we keep information that was erased or various versions of files). On

the one hand, a greater history will considerably increase the backup volumes; while on the

other hand, a rather short history will not provide a sufficient backup system. We often learn

of loss of information a long time after it occurred and therefore, proper management of the

organizational information history is imperative.

I strongly recommend consulting with a professional backup company on backing up and

protecting organizational information, you’d be amazed at how many different ways there are

for backup and only a few are actually efficient.

In conclusion, you must consider and remember that the level of cybernetic risks and dangers

is only increasing over time. There is a genuine need to be aware of the various dangers and

acting in a secure and correct manner with our computers system. Nowadays our most

valuable information is stored digitally and thus somewhat exposed to various dangers.

Applying the correct precautions can make all the difference!

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