Ransomware - hiding your head in old technology? It may cost you.

by Wally Moore

on January 14, 2015

in blog, ransonware


Ransomware - hiding your head in old technology?

Ransomware - hiding your head in old technology? It may cost you.

It was reported last week by CNN Money that visitors (using outdated browsers like Internet Explorer 8) to the Huffington Post website picked up an infection on their systems just by visiting the site which resulted in their systems being locked down. Nefarious activity of this type is called ransomware, because the only way data from the infected system can be retrieved is by paying a fee, ransom, to the criminal that perpetrated it.

This sad bit of news made me shake my head when I read about it. I wonder how many people and businesses are still using outdated technology, thinking they’re okay, that nothing bad will happen to their systems just because they’re old.

You know the countless, faceless users and small business owners the world over who are like the ostrich myth; hiding their head in the sand when danger looms, reasoning that no one can see them and thus they are safe. Sure.

You’re not one of them are you? Come on, you know who you are! Did I just describe you as one of the many businesses who refuse to update your old systems because they’re tried and true systems? After all, they seem to work well and do the job just fine, why upgrade them? You reason with yourself, “We only use our computers to send emails and create documents. We’re not power users and we don’t spend much time on the internet.”

You don’t have to be a power user, just touching one web site at the wrong time can cause problems.

By continuing to use your outdated technology, unknowingly, you may cost yourself dearly if your system becomes infected just by visiting a malware-laced website. It’s known as malvertising and it infects systems using outdated technology. It renders the system useless and locks it down until a ransom is paid to unlock it.

Lock down! What?!

Yep it’s called LOCK DOWN. It means the system became infected by just visiting (that’s all it takes) sites like The Huffington Post, men's magazine FHM, alternative newspapers LA Weekly and Houston Press, video game site GameZone, and many other websites with an outdated browser. And it will only be unlocked by sending a ransom fee of hundreds or thousands of dollars to UNLOCK the system. The ransom is paid to the very people who locked it up in the first place.

Who did this?

I’ll tell you who did this: Thieves and bad guys are the people that do this. The sad part of this story is this: the only reason these thieves were successful in the first place is because people continue to surf the Internet using old technology, i.e. an outdated browser, like Internet Explorer 8, instead of the newer browsers like Internet Explorer 11, Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.

Here at DTS InfoTech we have conversations with business owners all the time about the importance of keeping current with the latest technology running their business. It’s what we do for a living, so when this topic comes up during a conversation with a business owner, we explain the pitfalls of using outdated technology and the trouble it brings.

We don’t use hype to sell product and we don’t use scare tactics on our customers or anyone. In fact, the last time we placed a real emphasis on old and outdated technology was in regards to Windows XP. We took an unusual step and sent all of our customers (who were still using XP) a monthly reminder for three months straight right up to the published date by Microsoft that they had officially abandoned XP. We were adamant that people get off of that wonderful old operating system because the bad guys were going to exploit it. Like millions of XP users around the world we loved that OS and we were sad to see it go.

When we read this article about rasomware on CNN Money, we thought it would be a good time to reach out and share our own insight about this very real and growing problem which is this: you have to stop using old and outdated technology as soon as you can, because it’s just a matter of time until it causes you some real trouble in terms of lost data, or lost money, or inconvenience, or the reputation of your business. This stuff happens all the time. Stop using old technology. Let me say it one more time, stop it!

Each and every day, organized crime rings, primarily outside the USA, look for unprotected systems that they can attack and fool and trick. They look for scams they can run that will make them money. Today, it’s just like the 1960’s television series, The Wild, Wild West. Bad guys and outlaws are everywhere out in cyberspace and it’s growing all the time.

If you’re a business owner, or you manage a small business, our hearts go out to you because DTS InfoTech is you. We’re the same.

We know how hard it is to make money, how difficult making payroll can be and we’ve been impacted by Obamacare too. As our own technology ages we have to budget (read save our nickels and save our dimes here) for the replacement of them just like you. We know from first-hand experience that technology upgrades are not cheap, but you must stay current with the times or it will cost you even more time and trouble and money if you fall prey to scams.

Granted, our viewpoint is probably different than yours. Our phone rings most days with the problems our customers are having with their technology. Our viewpoint is one of hard earned experience, were not just casual observers. And just like the people in this CNN Money article, I will also tell you that the phone call that makes us literally shake our heads is when a customer calls to report a problem that never should have been a problem in the first place. It’s heartbreaking to find out what damage can be done to a small business because they simply did not keep their technology maintained and up to date as we had recommended. I’m not talking about buying new equipment every year; you don’t have to do that. It’s not necessary. Just stay current with updates and upgrades for your systems; it’s not that hard or expensive to do.

Who can you trust to help you?

If you’re a business owner dealing with chronic computer problems, slowness, servers going down, sudden crashes, viruses, error messages, or if you know you need to upgrade or expand your network, but you don’t know who you can trust to do an honest job, at a fair price, then I would urge you to download our FREE Business Advisory Guide here  before you even start looking.

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You can also pick up the phone and call us at 503.359.1275
We’re always happy to chat!

Dedicated to your success,
Wally Moore
DTS InfoTech . . . computer networks that work