Earlier this week ZDNet profiled an incredible exit strategy of one of the largest Ransomware operators of the last 12 months, GandCrab.
Setting aside irony, the professionalism of the operation should catch the attention of any business owner. The operators have a Software as a Service (SaaS) business model, complete with online forum support for paying customers. They send out private emails to current customers about plans in change of service, including advising their customers to get their victims to cash in before it is too late. They are shutting down their service after claiming to have made and successfully laundered $150m.
Also, the operators plan to delete the decryption keys, so without a backup victims will be toast.
So what are the takeaways?
- Ransomware has graduated to the level of truly organized crime: these are teenagers in their parents’ basements
- The industry is so profitable AND competitive so as to have a “B2B” sphere, complete with customer support
- It was true a few years ago that ransomware operations were largely opportunistic: today the money involved means you are an active target
Baltimore has been crippled by ransomware. Over 70% of attacks now actually target small and mid-size businesses. There are 3 simple things you can do to avoid catastrophe.
1) Assume it will happen to you, 2) plan on it happening to you, 3) test your plan.
For the last several years ransomware has been on the rise. 2018 was a huge year for ransomware, more than doubling. It also was the first year we saw small and medium businesses actively being targeted.
In the past, large enterprises and municipalities were the most likely to be targeted: big targets, big rewards. However, as these high value targets have upped the defenses hackers have begun to actually target the smaller firms, instead of merely hitting them opportunistically.
The biggest opportunity for hackers in the next year is likely to be the end of Windows 7 (free) support by Microsoft, allowing security holes to go unfixed. It’s likely that there are already hacking organizations that are aware of holes in Windows 7 that they are hanging on to in order to use on January 15th, 2020. If you don’t have an active plan to upgrade to Windows 10 by then, you should start saving up to pay the ransom for your data.
60 seconds after midnight US tariffs on thousands of Chinese products more than doubled. How is this going to affect your business?
Costs are going to go up across the board. The supply chains of virtually every industry cross through China at some point. It’s impossible to get away from it. Even if you are a low-tech company, China played a role in producing the goods and services you use or that your suppliers use.
Two simple non-tech examples: if you have employees you reimburse for mileage you are likely to see the reimbursement rise due to increased repair costs, due to increased part prices sourced from China. (Crude oil has also had upward pressure put on it from tariffs). Second, the tariffs hit on materials such as aluminum and copper increase costs for any industry that depends on them as a core component. That includes oil, manufacturing and construction for starters. The result will be increased expenses for anyone with an office building.
Finally, the tech sector depends heavily on China. From computer chips to memory, to the raw materials used to create these, mass amounts of tech manufacturing happens in China. Even low-tech companies will feel the pinch as the underlying costs for vendors they depend on (phones, email) see their costs go up and adjust prices accordingly. For organizations with larger tech initiatives, such as replacing aging Windows 7 machines, the cost will increase.
At JM Addington Technology Solutions we don’t expect to see price increases immediately but rather ramping up over the rest of the year. The threat of tariffs are not new so a lot of companies have had time to either adjust prices or deal with increased costs already. However, there has been and is broad market expectations that a deal will get reached. The longer that takes to happen, the more you will see your costs increase,
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